THE NIGHTINGALE MYSTERY

Based on the stories of Hans Christian Andersen

Written, Designed and Directed by Terje Tveit
Dance Choreography by Federica Zurleni
Lighting Design by Sally Ferguson
Stage Manager Mary Beth Howington

Rosemary Branch Theatre, London

25 November - 10 December 2008

Cast

James Burton
David Dimitriou
Paul Hampton
Jenni Lea-Jones
Abigail Longstaffe
Pearl Marsland
Simon Mathis
Steven Rodgers
Amy Westgarth
Kerry Wotton
Kerensa York

Reviews

“The fringe is often accused of feeling limited - in scope, ambition and size. The Nightingale Mystery certainly cannot be accused of that. The production, which is as slick as it is visually striking, boasts a large cast, a sprawling plot and countless locations ... Visually, the piece is distinctive - a trademark of director Terje Tveit, and in pace, the piece speeds along. The real shame is, however, that it is very difficult and confusing to follow ... if the plot was more comprehensible, there would be much to marvel here. This company and the writer/director don't need me to tell them that they've got a very promising future ahead of them. The sheen on this production is undeniable - long may the Rosemary Branch bring these new talents to our collective attentions.”

Remotegoat

“Copies of the London Metro newspaper, held upside down by 11 hard-working performers, open the Nightingale Mystery at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Whilst one must applaud the use of free newsprint in these straightened times, the minimalist setting of two cabin trunks, a lectern and a full length mirror suggest one’s attention should be on the author rather than the designer. Certainly, the storyline needs a watchful eye. A 17-year old princess is to be carted off to the neighbouring kingdom to be married to King Louis (Shades of Louis Quatorze, perhaps) to cement an uneasy peace. Mama Pesto bewails the loss of her hubby, snatched from a cherry tree in the palace gardens, whilst eyeballing Queen Carbonara in flagrante with a stranger. Meanwhile the duchess and her acolytes take to the road: ‘Who needs an opinion when you’ve got a therapist,” she wisely intones, while customs at the North Pole rifle through her baggage. Fast fade to Freedonia (or whatever the neighbouring country is called) where Miss Mayoress is in charge, armed with a silver-fox fur and a slobbering general in tow, she prowls the corridors and plots her continued ability to be the power behind the throne. Sir Thistle (the archetypal courtier) emerges from his antechamber to sign for a trunk bearing the unfortunate princess, who we never actually get to see. Curiosity rising. A lady in a large hat introduces herself as Miss Catwalker and with torches and a compadre called Nino Ernesto she scours the local cemetery for evidence of a buried mermaid. Back at the palace, Mr Wright-Hancock plays ethereal arpeggios of his saxophone to Sir Thistle in an attempt to extract information about the princess, but Sir Thistle is more interested in extracting the microchip from his bum, which has been shot there without consent. ‘Whatever Lola wants’ wafts out of the P.A. as the Duchess molls arrive at the palace, trumpeting their expertise in pole-dancing. Meanwhile, the princess has been microchipped in preparation for her marriage. And this is only the first half! This kind of scatological rag-bag approach has been used by The Simpsons to good effect, but on stage it tends to pall after about an hour, and the soufflé starts to sink. The use of canned music to highlight events works reasonably well and some of the wittier comments evoke sporadic guffaws, but overall, the effect is one of a lot of people working very hard to keep a Zeppelin airborne by blowing in unison from underneath. Terje Tveit (author and director) claims that it is based on tales by Hans Christian Andersen, but he has cast his net much wider, to include The Marx Brothers, George Farquhar and The Sun, as well as Blackadder. ‘Compensation’ cry the outraged citizens of Fredonia when the marriage is postponed, but I fear it is Mr Andersen who would win any award from the court of public opinion if this script was published under his name.”

Kentish Times & Reporter

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