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The Libertine - One4Review

The Kings Players production of The Libertine with its complex plot and range of characters is a successful venture. Set in the 17th century, the play revolves around the lifestyle and character of the Earl of Rochester. In his public life the relationship to Charles II is crucial. At times he is in favour for his apparent charm and wit, but his irreverence towards the King in his written work results in imprisonment or banishment. In his personal life the theatre, whoring and drinking are paramount. Two deeper female relationships exist – with his wife and with the actress Elizabeth Barry. It is a lengthy as a one act play with the emphasis on dialogue and ‘verbal gymnastics’ but the action does not flag. It is superbly costumed. Much depends on Tom Hunter’s portrayal of Rochester. He gives an outstanding performance bringing out Rochester’s cocky confidence and, at the end, his desperation as he moves towards death at 33. Natasha Dawn, who plays Elizabeth Barry and also directs the play, brings out Barry’s independence and ambition. She is Rochester’s intellectual match. Julia Cornish (Rochester’s Wife) portrays the dutiful and long suffering wife successfully. All the supporting cast contribute to make for an absorbing experience with its wry humour. Is there a moral to this tale or is it simply a cracking good story or both? Each person will need to make up their own mind.   ****

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