Theatre Review: 5/11 at the Bridewell Theatre

The intriguing tale of the Gunpowder Plot is brought to stage in time for Bonfire Night

The revival of Edwards Kemp’s 5/11 by the Tower Theatre Company is a retelling of the gunpowder plot which draws strong parallels with today’s religious extremism.

Whilst this was a solid version, it was somewhat lacking in the promised excitement.

The story itself is intriguing. Instead of concentrating on Guy Fawkes it tells the more important tale of the plotters and conspirators who surrounded him.

We are taken into a world of religious and political wrangling, Protestants versus Catholics, old money versus new money – and a gay King James, excellently portrayed by Alex Cooper.


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The main protagonists play their parts well, with Laurence Ward providing a convincing Robert Catesby who was the chief Catholic zealot, an Osama bin Laden if you will. Ian Hore’s Robert Cecil is suitably detestable as a backstabbing noble and Henry Garnet is convincing as a hidden and troubled Jesuit priest.

However, where the play promises to deliver “swordfights, colour, dodo’s and executions” it seems to fall a little short.

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The dialogue is too lengthy and the range of characters too indistinct, so that it often becomes confusing. And the descent into religious lunacy sometimes fails to convince.

Which is a shame as this is not a factual account; you therefore feel they could have injected more excitement into what is an exciting series of events.

But all said this was still a good telling of a fascinating concept. And they did deliver on the dodo.

* 5/11 is showing at the Bridewell Theatre, in Bride Lane, EC4Y, until Saturday, November 5.

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