Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death, Minerva Theatre, Chichester

4.00

Embattled Bard's on to a real winner

Eyes down for a full house: Edward Bond's provocative title is curiously apt, as the entire run of the play is virtually sold out. Why? Because Patrick Stewart is Shakespeare, a role he played in the same play 33 years ago with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and London.

In the last days of his life, Stewart's playwright, an inscrutable figure in Jacobean black hose and tunic, is frozen immobile in a Warwickshire landscape of domestic unhappiness, civil riot and dispute over the enclosures. He has 100 acres and many rents, and he does nothing. He writes nothing. He cares for no one. He kills himself.

Stewart, whose Buddha-like stillness and apparent serenity are deeply unnerving, has changed tack, turning the anger and irritability of his RSC performance inwards into anguish and despair. The severity of the play is still startling, constructed in six stern and serrated scenes of money and death.

Angus Jackson's production is brilliantly and starkly designed by Robert Innes Hopkins: the snowscape is not, for once, done with a white sheet; the panelled interior of the inn where Shakespeare drinks with Richard McCabe's sottish and hilarious Ben Jonson is the reverse side of the Bard's bedroom in New Place; and the great garden hedge is both Shakespeare's barrier and his own enclosure.

This was the first of several Bond plays to take up creative cudgels with our greatest dramatist. It's not a biographical play, but a bracingly critical allegory of an artist's impotency, even if Bond ingenuously suggests that Shakespeare condones the rapacity of the age by not writing about it, and in signing up to the land enclosures. A travelling girl (Michelle Tate) is hidden away for sex by Shakespeare's filthy old gardener (John McEnery) and then whipped and dismissed by his puritanical son (Alex Price).

She's next seen dead, gibbeted on a tall pole, half-covered in sacking while Stewart delivers the great bear-baiting speech ("The Queen cheered them on in shrill Latin"), registering a level of disgust he can't manage in his art. And this brutality is a direct result of the land enclosures being authorised by Jason Watkins's impatient, irascible William Combe.

Shakespeare is haunted by fragments of King Lear but they don't help when he's lost and alone in the fields, or rolling in the snow: "I could lie in this snow a whole life. I can think now, the thoughts come so easily over the snow and under my shroud."

Gielgud was uncomfortable in the play but found a haunting beauty in the lines that Bond probably didn't want. Stewart flattens out all lyricism, suggesting an eerie, ghost-like quality, unafraid to leave the audience thoroughly perplexed by his lack of emotional commitment.

His passivity drives his daughter Judith distraught. Catherine Cusack makes a great deal of Judith's concern with the world – and her own mother, whom we never see – beating at the door. Judith can be played as a savage Goneril, but Cusack finds something more subtle in the role, even when rummaging in the bedroom for the missing will as Will goes missing.





To 22 May (01243 781312; Cft.org.uk)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

    Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit