Anne-Marie Piazza

Trained at The Bristol Old Theatre School

The Wits: Read Not Dead

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Sunday 30th September saw the rehearsed reading of the 17th century play The Wits by William Davenant at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe. It was first performed 1634 and published 1636 and had a rocky start. Initially, because of its oaths and explicit language, Sir Henry Herbert (Master of the Revels) was incredibly unhappy about it and it took the intercession of King Charles I for it to be allowed.

Thankfully, due to the work of our wonderful cast expertly directed by Read Not Dead regular Martin Hodgson, our Sunday afternoon audience also loved it.

The Read Not Dead rules are as follows: Actors rehearse the play on a Sunday morning and present it, script in hand, to an audience later that afternoon.

The performances are instinctive, adrenaline driven and inventive. Actors and audiences alike share in the excitement of reviving these forgotten plays that definitely deserve to be Read Not Dead.

Synopsis: Eager to live like fashionable gallants, Elder Pallatine and Sir Morgalay Thwack plan to woo London women and fleece them of their wealth. Elder Pallatine meets his match when his younger brother joins forces with Lady Ample and set about tricking him with ridiculous/hilarious consequences.

Supposedly Lady Ample represents a restoration feminine ideal, that of a woman who is equal to man in every way. In fact her parting shot, when she suggests marriage to the Elder Pallatine, is that he will agree that she has far more wit than he does. I found her an utter joy to play and would only have wished for a proper run to really sink my teeth into the character.

Read Not Dead’s are a wonderful opportunity to bring back rarely seen plays and throw them onto stage with energy, very little preparation but a lot of joy. And this was no exception.

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