Me­dieval mad­ness

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS - By TALIA CARLISLE

A group of pil­grims en­counter sword fights, chase scenes and a me­dieval tour­na­ment in Gryphon’s com­edy, Some Can­ter­bury Tales.

The play in­cludes six of Chaucer’s most pop­u­lar tales, set at the end of the 14th cen­tury. Two-me­tre tall hobby horses are the trans­port of choice for the char­ac­ters, who take turns telling tales on a pil­grim­age walk to the shrine of Thomas a’Beck­ett at Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral.

The play is a test for the ac­tors, who had to change char­ac­ter to act out each of the tales, di­rec­tor Ross Miller of Mana said. ‘‘The cast has each had to de­velop four or five dif­fer­ent ac­cents, and learn to be­have as chick­ens, kings and queens, yokels, ser­vants, trades­men, knights and ladies,’’ he said.

Af­ter each tale, the ac­tors re­turn to their cen­tral char­ac­ters, which in­clude a knight, a nun, a franklin (landowner), a miller, a par­doner (seller of re­li­gious favours), the five-time mar­ried Wife Of Bath, a publi­can and two bar­maids. ‘‘It’s ac­tu­ally quite hec­tic,’’ Miller said. ‘‘To put this amount of ef­fort into it, you have to en­joy it.’’

Waikanae ac­tor Colin Eade plays the ‘‘drunken, noisy and rude’’ Miller in the Wellington Reper­tory pro­duc­tion.

He orig­i­nally heard the play in 1964 when a flat­mate study­ing English lit­er­a­ture read it out in the early hours of the morn­ing, leav­ing ‘‘a last­ing im­pres­sion’’.

It has been a busy year for Eade, who per­formed in Gil­bert and Sul­li­van’s Gypsy Baron, fol­lowed by a role in New Zealand Opera’s The Fly­ing Dutch­man.

The tran­si­tion from Ger­man opera to an­cient English was a chal­lenge, he said.

Miller en­joyed the me­dieval set­ting of the pro­duc­tion, al­though the lan­guage had been mod­ernised. He was thank­ful for his wife Sue’s ef­forts mak­ing the cos­tumes be­cause ‘‘you can’t just go get [me­dieval cos­tumes] out of an op shop’’.

Some Can­ter­bury Tales,

Ride on: Colin Eade with his draught horse in Some Can­ter­bury Tales at Gryphon The­atre.

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