HENSLOWE'S DIARY IN ORIGINAL PRONUNCIATIONPassion in Practice at The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Not a diary in the modern sense. A business day-book, perhaps. And this entertainment does not confine itself to the commercial jottings of the great theatre manager, proprietor of the Rose and the Fortune.
We meet his son-in-law, Edward Alleyn the actor, writing home to Joan while he is away touring with Lord Strange's Men. Peter Street, theatre builder, Moll Cutpurse, roaring girl, Simon Forman, medic and astrologer. All brought to life in their own words, spoken, as far as we can guess, in their own accent.
But centre stage, in a bravura performance, is the man himself, celebrated this year along with his acquaintance, and rival, W.S. “the other feller”. In Will Sutton's wickedly enjoyable characterization, we see him shelling out for a new script – from £3 – and for “Street's dinner and mine” - from 6d; he enthusiastically promotes bear-baiting, and is keen to make money however he can. But he's far from the illiterate rogue of popular imagination, and despite the stress, is a keen man of the theatre. And, almost certainly, once owned the land on which we sit.
Much of this all-too-brief candlelit concoction is improvised, and the word-of-mouth evidence is fleshed out and explained by the uniquely fascinating team of David and Ben Crystal.
Like last week's Faustus, it would certainly bear repeating in the even more appropriate, if less atmospheric, arena of Henslowe's own Rose, just yards away from the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.