An 18th century Commedia dell’arte play is adapted for the English stage. The year is 2011, the on-stage setting is 1963 Brighton. The stage, of course, has shifted from the West End to Broadway and then abroad. The date was April 2, day: Thursday. The world was on a more dreary stage of reality- in the shadow of the pandemic. And this is what the National Theater Live streaming did (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzqcRwWVv8k): provide a retreat into a world of love, chance and innocence.
Francis Henshell brought alive by James Cordon in his characteristic mix of sarcasm and subtle expressions. The ease with which he interacted with the audience members, calling them on stage, playing pranks on them and teasing them proved to be a heart-warming way to break the proverbial fourth wall. Yet, what was most endearing about the plot was the odds of his “two guvnors” Roscoe Crabbe (Jemima Rooper) and Stanely Stubbers (Oliver Chris) being lovers in reality. It’s a dramatic world where these coincidences do not make sense. But in this senselessness of serendipity, lies the redemption of faith. Faith that perhaps, after all, in life too, all will be well, before the curtains drop.
In this senselessness of serendipity, lies the redemption of faith.
Against the bluish cardboard light of the pier backdrop where the two lovers realize that the other is indeed alive; their intimate embraces makes us reminiscent of La La Land minus the sound of music. Yet, the melody of a neat resolution is enduring.
In the post-post-modern, post-pandemic world, perhaps, a neat resolution will make a reappearance. Or at least, that’s what this heart of innocence hopes!