All three plays in the Ustinov Studio’s Spanish Golden Age Season have now opened and will run in repertory until Saturday 21stDecember. The plays are A Lady of Little Sense, a big-hearted and hilarious romantic comedy which celebrates the power of love; Don Gil of the Green Breeches, an exuberant comedy which blends mistaken identity, role-reversal, ghosts and green trousers; and the powerful tragedy, Punishment Without Revenge.
A Lady of Little Sense by Lope de Vega is a comedy, directed by the Ustinov’s Artistic Director Laurence Boswell. The wealthy Don Octavio is trying to marry off his famously beautiful daughters, Nise and Finea. Unfortunately, one is too clever for her own good while the other is notoriously stupid. Can the family hide their faults long enough to hoodwink a suitor into marriage? Surely the combination of a dancing master and a huge dowry can do the trick?! Lope de Vega was a more prolific writer than his British contemporary Shakespeare. Around 500 of his 3,000 works survive to this day, of which around 80 are considered to be masterpieces.
Running alongside A Lady of Little Sense, is a second Lope de Vega play, Punishment Without Revenge widely considered to be one of his finest works and the greatest tragedy of the Spanish Golden Age. Set in the glamourous and dangerous world of Renaissance Italy, the womanizing Duke of Ferrara is training his illegitimate son to succeed him. When his subjects demand that he marry and provide them with a legitimate heir, the beautiful Duchess of Mantua is sent to be his bride. A passionate love develops, but not between the Duke and his Duchess, and in a culture which thrives on virtue, there can be only one outcome…
The season is completed by a comedy from Tirso de Molina, Don Gil of the Green Breeches. Dona Juana has been betrayed by the dashing Don Martin, the man she thought she would marry. Not one to take this lying down, she dons the titular disguise and adopts his name in a bid to woo his new lover, a strategy which will either cause a change of heart or complete chaos… Tirso de Molina was inspired by de Vega, and around 80 of his many plays have survived, most notably The Seducer of Seville, his 1630 play which introduced the world to legendary anti-hero Don Juan, who has appeared in countless novels, operas, musicals and stories ever since.
The Spanish Golden Age Season opened on 12th September and runs until Saturday 21st December. For this audacious and ambitious season, the Ustinov has put together its largest company ever with a resident ensemble of ten actors, including, from the Ustinov’s previous four highly-acclaimed and award-winning seasons, Frances McNamee (The Phoenix of Madrid) Simon Scardifield (The Double)Katie Lightfoot (In The Next Room or the Vibrator Play) and Chris Andrew Mellon (In a Garden).
The experienced Spanish Golden Age Company is completed by Doug Rao (who played DS Stuart Turner in The Bill for four years, and has worked with the RSC); actor and musician Nick Barber (whose credits include West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Menier Chocolate Factory, the RSC and the Watermill Theatre); Jim Bywater who has performed regularly with the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Watermill Theatre and the Lyric Hammersmith and many others in a 40 year career that has taken him across the world; Hedydd Dylan (Clwyd Theatre, Cymru), Annie Hemingway (Chichester Festival Theatre and Birmingham Rep) and William Hoyland (National Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, the RSC and extensive television and film credits including Return of the Jedi, Life on Mars, All Creatures Great and Small and Our Friends in the North.)
This is a significant cultural event in the UK and a major innovation in the history of Golden Age translation and performance and is supported by the Embassy of Spain Office for Cultural and Scientific Affairs. After their premieres in Bath, the plays will be performed by the Theatre Royal’s co-producers at London’s Arcola Theatre and the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.
Tickets: £19.50 / £14.50 discounts
Mondays: All seats £10
Box Office: 01225 448844, www.theatreroyal.org.uk/ustinov