The Herbal Bed

Presented by English Touring Theatre
Written by Peter Whelan
Directed by James Dacre
Liverpool Playhouse
8th - 12th March 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
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 from herbs.

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!

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