Review: Kemble’s Riot, Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square

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THE year is 1809 and the action unfolds over 66 days of rioting, centring on the figure of celebrated actor John Kemble, but this is no dry history lesson.

*****

1809 is the year Covent Garden was rebuilt after a fire. As a result, actor/manager, John Kemble raised ticket prices 
. . . and so began audience riots which lasted 66 nights.

This production has it all, there’s a wealth of audience participation (indeed audience members are indispensable – you, the public get to exercise your awesome power) superb performances from the four-strong cast, and a staging which gives you the experience of actually living through the historic events.

Written by Adrian Bunting, this is a many-levelled piece, which boasts parallels with the times we live in. It’s also a political rant with laughter, and tears. Laced subtly through the production are fundamental questions for which there are no easy – if any – answers.

After the final curtain, and after the exhilaration and excitement has died down, there is enough to contemplate for days afterwards.

Until August 27