Theatre Bartholomew Fair

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The Independent Culture
The Independent's Paul Taylor described Laurence Boswell's production of Bartholomew Fair (right), which opened at Stratford in Dec 1997, as "the most brilliantly entertaining breach of the peace the RSC has served up in a long time", and most critics agreed. This week it finally comes to London. Ben Jonson's sprawling, slangy Jacobean comedy is set in the notorious fair that took place in Smithfield on St Bartholomew's Day, but Boswell has brought a sleazy, trippy Notting Hill carnival feel to it: the gullible visitors are overwhelmed by the multi-coloured sights and amplified sounds. At more than three hours, it's almost as protracted an event as the real thing, but bustling performances ensure you never tire of the anti-puritanical, double-dealing fun.

Now previewing, opens Wed (7pm), Young Vic, London SE1 (0171-638-8891) 7.15pm/mats at 2pm in rep to 25 Mar

Dominic Cavendish

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