Earl of Rochester, reconstructed by Toby Parker-Rees
There's a slight disease in theatre at the present time, to take a play that may once have been a shocker, perhaps a humorous one with words that rhyme. And then to to use it as a current issue mocker.
It is SAS or Spring Awakening Syndrome. There's nothing especially wrong with Spring Awakening: it appeared at the Fringe several years ago, I had never heard of it and was pleasantly amused, though not really shocked. Fast forward a few years and everyone is performing it; it's even become a West End musical, and everyone is banging on about how fresh and relevant it is.
Now the Earl of Rochester's play is very coarse, lots of swearing and scenes of a sexual nature. It isn't a great piece but it could be quite entertaining and fun. The cast though are too shouty, too in-your-face and nothing they do is even close to a believable sex act. This is in some ways one of the most prudish things I have seen at the theatre. Why does everyone keep their clothes on and the cod pieces filled with vegetables just looked like some weird Arcimboldo.
The over-the-top acting really gets wearing and the constant swearing and thrusting very repetitive. Joe Rubini stood out as the only watchable actor as the Demon who played a wide range of musical instruments and was quite amusing, but unfortunately didn't appear very often.
Not fresh or relevant no matter how much recent riot footage is unceasingly played on the screen behind the actors—although mostly on the actors as they get in the way of the screen.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin