The Herbal Bed
by English Touring Theatre
Written by Peter Whelan
Directed by James Dacre
8th - 12th March 2016
Photograph by Mark Douet
Set in 1613, this play could have been based in the present day, given
its subject matters.
Infidelity, self deception, sexual lust, double-speak, duplicity, were
much in evidence in The Herbal Garden, tended by Shakespeare's daughter
Susanna Hall (Emma Lowndes), the wife of a Stratford physician John Hall
(Jonathan Guy Lewis), who specialises in creating medicinal compounds
The front cover of the programme gives the impression of this production
being a twee period piece.
This is not so! Bed, as in herbal bed, takes on another meaning. Bawdy
behaviour and language are to the fore almost throughout.
The lighting design by Malcolm Rippeth is particularly impressive, notably
the interrogation scene inside a church, when spooky God obsessed Barnabus
Goche (Michael Mears) strongly questions Susanna about her alleged adultery
with married man Rafe Smith (Philip Correia), who likes to scale walls
to see her!