St Albans’ Company of Ten stage Sonnets on Trial

A GROUP of Company of Ten members received rave reviews for their personal take on Shakespeare’s Sonnets when they took their show Sonnets on Trial to the Questors Theatre in Ealing, West London last week.

Shown earlier this year at the Abbey Theatre, the play formed part of the Company’s response to the RSC’s Open Stages project and it has now wowed audience members at the RSC’s Open Stage Regional Showcase.

One of the authors of the piece, Kate Rainsford, who also directed, said: “This was an ambitious project because anyone who knows even the odd line will be aware that the sonnets are complex and numerous and hardly written for theatrical production.

“With Sonnets on Trial we wanted to look at the verses from a female perspective and answer the critics who say the sonnets prove that Shakespeare was a misogynist who loved a young boy and longed to escape the clutches of not only one mysterious dark lady, but of all women, notably his wife.”

She added: “The show suggests that to read the sonnets as autobiography is foolhardy; to read them as a multi-faceted, sometimes playful, sometimes tragic exploration of the human condition allows them to resonate for both sexes and all generations.”

Fellow author, Margaret Metcalf, commented: “We were thrilled and excited to take our show to the next stage of this year’s Shakespeare celebrations. Performing on the wonderful stage of the Questors proved to be a stimulating and rewarding experience. We felt part of an immense, joyous celebration affirming not just the importance but the enduring love of Shakespeare in our country.

“Our show was very well received with positive comments about the originality of the idea and how it makes the sonnets so accessible. We were asked by people at the Questors, including someone from the Globe Theatre, if the play was available for others to perform.

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“Representatives from The Royal Shakespeare Company, who are attending shows all over the country, were also very complimentary. The experience was enhanced by the fact that the Questors were so welcoming, friendly, helpful and supportive of us.”