Martin Wimbush entertained a full audience at the Rye Community Centre last Sunday, September 23, with his very personal compilation of scenes from Shakespeare.
A Rye resident, he has in his acting career played many roles, on stage, film and television but his love of Shakespeare has been a bedrock influence upon him all his life. Right from the start he captured the imagination of his listeners, inviting them as in the prologue to Henry V, to imagine the world, the whole universe bounded in a little O, the rounded form of the Elizabethan theatre.
The flow of poetry, well-remembered or half-forgotten, kept the audience hanging on his words. He demonstrated the art of acting in his presentation of the hunchback Richard III, chilling in his malevolence, yet engaging our sympathy with the insight: “I have no delight to see my shadow in the sun.” So too with the ludicrous Malvolio in Twelfth Night, modelled for Martin Wimbush on an officious traffic warden aspiring to greater things. He and the revenge-seeking Shylock were honoured for their common humanity. Humour was there aplenty.
Who of us cannot now remember Lancelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, torn in conscience between staying in duty by his master or taking to his heels? We had interludes of fun with Jonathan Miller’s ‘Shakespeare send-up’ and moments of great depth with readings of Sonnets 18 and 29. Did we credit this actor with a musical voice? His rendering of the song, “Fear no more the heat of the sun” from Cymbeline and another from Twelfth Night, “Hey Ho the wind and the rain” moved us with their simplicity of expression.
It was fitting that the last words of the last play, Prospero’s epilogue to the Tempest, proved all the magic of the honey-tongued dramatist we know as Shakespeare. The performance gained from the musicianship of Michel Duvoisin both in rounding the action and providing humorous interjections on the trumpet. It was a performance to treasure.
Image Credits: Paul Whiteman .