The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0374  Thursday, 24 February 2005

From:           Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 18:54:30 -0800
Subject:        Ancient Pistol Sounds Off


[Note:  This is a review of a new production of a play that may date
back to about 1990 and may have also been a BBC radio production.
Anyone have details?]

Islington Gazette, Feb. 23, 2005

Etcetera Theatre, Camden High Street, NW1

FROM celebrated war poets, through Orwell's 1984, to Michael Moore's
Fahrenheit 9/11, the arts have long provided a platform to assert an
alternative truth to political propaganda - the plight of the underdog
against the all-powerful state.

But this play in which Pistol, a minor character from Shakespeare's The
Life of King Henry V, bites back against spiel about noble and glorious
war, successfully muscles its way in and strikes an impressive blow.

At first, watching a drunk soldier grunting around the stage is hard
going - but an insightful script and brilliant performance by the lone
actor win through.

John Giles holds the audience rapt with an unnervingly naturalistic
performance. When he shoots a glance into the crowd, you take notice. He
sits slumped on his pub stool as the audience enters and foregoes taking
a bow at the end, never leaving character for a moment.

The impressive script by Peter Mottley transports After Agincourt to
horrific scenes where French soldiers (who can't retreat because of the
thousands pushing them from behind and can't attack because they are too
exhausted in their heavy armour) only have one option - to die. Pistol
reels off tales of scared and diseased men and no-holds-barred
portrayals of dysentery - you "life draining away through your arse".

And all these disgusting and powerful images appear without the action
ever leaving the corner of The Boar's Head Tavern in 1422 where our hero
sits getting drunk and having a rant. - GEMMA BRIGGS

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