Words, Words, Words, Leicester Square Theatre - Review

In recent years there has been a slow but steady progression of one man/woman shows from those about dead celebrities and fictitious characters to those with a more personal emphasis.  What distinguishes Lowri Amies' play (as moving as it is) from other autobiographical shows, is the use of Shakespeare's canon to express at certain junctures in the play – what everyday prose cannot.

As an actor who has been steeped in performing the Bard's repertoire since her teens, Shakespeare has always had a special place in her heart. Candidly relating about her grandfather's steady decline in health and the knock-on effect this had on her own mother's health, it is evident Shakespeare became a refuge for her during a life as a student, the heightened emotions of the plays mirroring the undercurrent of strong emotions bubbling away beneath the surface at home.

Throughout the performance lies seven, hollow 'books' on the floor – an allusion to the seven ages of man mentioned in As You Like It. Within each contain artefacts that have a personal or sentimental significance to her mother or grandfather.

As the recitals of Shakespearean passages are dovetailed into more personal anecdotes, it's obvious that for Amies, Shakespeare is to her what William Blake's Jerusalem and WH Auden's 'Stop all the clocks' are to the national consciousness, the marrow of life itself. If you're not as au fait with the minutiae of Shakespare's canon, perhaps the significance of the passages recited may not register as much with someone who is very familiar with them. Just off top of my head, I recall passages from Macbeth, Romeo and Juiliet, The Tempest and of course As You Like It, her favourite play.

Even though I like Shakespeare's plays, I personally would have like to have heard a bit more from Amies about the thoughts and experiences that inspired her choice of passages, but that's a minor subjective quibble.

As a performance/showcase of Shakespeare's canon, you'd be hard pressed to find another show that has as much variety or performed with as much feeling.

© Michael Davis 2016

Words, Words, Words runs at Leicester Square Theatre until 21st May 2016.


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