After condemning Giordano Bruno to burn at the stake, the Pope is haunted by dreams in which the 16th century heretic has escaped to a British heaven inhabited by Queen Elizabeth I, a female Shakespeare, and a barmaid with a menu tattooed on her backside. Sound weird? You have no idea.
Snoo Wilson’s More Light, given its first production since 1987 courtesy of Benn Cody and Trifle Productions, merges Bard-like lingo (plus the occasional contemporary expletive), necromancy, cosmology, history and outright nudity to create a play so overwhelming it’s almost nonsensical.
What a relief then that the challenging script is in such capable hands. Director Chris Hislop’s production is slick, well cast and right at home in such a challenging space; the cast doing an excellent job of keeping the audience up to speed with the complex plotline. Neil Chinneck is like a younger Gary Oldman as the Pope, Cassandra Hodges is a delightfully eccentric Elizabeth, and Rob Lydnon is noteably strong as mystic Dee. But it’s Claire Jared’s arrival as Shakespeare half-way through Act 1 that really gives the show an extra kick; her delivery of snappy one-liners timed to perfection and her relationship with Bruno (Jackson Wright) a joy to watch.
Some of the finer points of the plot are inevitably lost amidst hard-to-grasp language, and zone out for ten seconds at your peril, but stay focussed for the duration and be rewarded with a witty, solidly performed and rather unique piece of theatre. Although challenging, Wilson’s language is often beautifully constructed; and one set-piece alone – a sex scene involving a monarch, a barmaid and a dude with a donkey mask – more than justifies the admission price.
Photographs: Chris Beach