I recently posted about The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon currently showing at Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. Last night I was lucky enough to attend the event with a very lovely friend; it was my first ever visit to the Sherman Theatre and it was a wonderful experience.
The building is stunning, with vast open space and a bar to enjoy a drink before, during or after the show. It has a very relaxed vibe and the staff are so friendly. You are welcome to sit, stand or possibly lie down (providing your head is propped up at the right angle) and lose yourself in the performance.
The one thing I am going to start off by saying is, Abigail McGibbon performs this with every ounce of energy she has. The whole performance is one full of guts, from the writing to the music to the visuals, you won’t have a chance to second guess what’s coming next.
I know very little of Catherine of Aragon, and much like director Conor Mitchell’s describes, my main knowledge is of her marriage to Henry VIII. It’s all we’re taught in school, or at least I was, all those long years ago. But when you delve further into her real life, well there’s a lot more to it than marrying the infamous king, as Conor explains in this short film…
The atmosphere in the theatre was one of suspense for me, smoke and silence at first, a bare canvas of white with simple props and a lone figure in white. As my companion for the night described it, ‘it was stripped bare, the various elements would have been lost otherwise.’ And it’s true, without this naked canvas, we wouldn’t have been able to zone in on the words and music that were working together to form a myriad of emotions.
For me personally, it was the visual element and poetry that stood out. I adored the surprise elements, and without giving much away, the stage is used to its fullest ability thanks to clever creative thinking. My friend adored the music, and the musicians (in particular the pianist) were completely at one with the story. My eyes darted from the musicians to Abigail and back again, a passion between them like I’ve never seen before in theatre.
As for the writing, well there were some truly magical moments of descriptive text. It’s so hard to remember everything that made me, as a writer, bubble with interest at the poetical verse so beautifully performed by Abigail. The description of the Earth cracking was certainly one of these moments for me, and for a lot of it, I could visualise these things happening in my mind because they were so well written.
Obviously, it’s great if you can go into this perfomance with some background knowledge of Catherine, but I do not feel it is essential at all. I left feeling moved by words, actions, light, dark, music and more, and I had questions too, so many questions. I was moved by the performance and left wanting to find out more about this woman, Catherine; a woman known mostly for being the first wife of Henry VIII.
Because of this performance, I want to know more. I want to learn more about Catherine. Isn’t this the whole point? Not to leave a performance feeling complete, but to leave wanting to dig a little deeper, learn a little more and (much like we have with this performance) open our eyes to see more than we thought we could ever find.
I implore you, regardless of your historical knowledge, to go and see this riveting performance. It will hypnotise you, shock you and hopefully make you realise there’s much more to this woman than any of us think…
Show times are: 8pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 3pm and 8pm Saturday. Prices range from £2.50-£15.
Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.