Date Posted... Dec 4th 2019

Burrell Theatre transforms into Shakespearean England

The annual whole school play took place last week as the Burrell Theatre transformed into a medieval English forest.

Director of Drama, Ben Oldfield, abridged and adapted Shakespeare’s eight English history plays into one epic storytelling experience, ‘This Sceptered Isle’.

He said: ‘Featuring Shakespeare’s poetry, a forest-inspired set, countless battles, and live music, it covers just over a hundred years of civil turmoil and war, from Richard II through Henry IV, V and VI right up to Richard III’.

Diggory Gill played the petulant and volatile Richard II, Harrison Fraser his dour nemesis Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV). Kit Gordon-Brown took on the role of the dashing young prince Hal, who went on to glorious victory at Agincourt. Chloe Lansdowne was the young, troubled Henry VI, beset on all sides by ambitious and dangerous men. Max Cherry the dandy and debauched Edward IV, and Monty Rix his younger brother – the scheming arch-villain of the piece, Richard III. Costumes were hired from the Royal Shakespeare Company, lending the show an added realistic element.

The prop crown used in the play was made by Giles King in 1984, when he played Hal in Henry IV, part 2 when he was a Truro School student. Giles has since gone on to be one of the stars of Kneehigh Theatre and regularly travels the world as an actor.

Designer Sandra Goodenough and her team created a set that reflected the landscape of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Shrubbery of English Oaks decked out the entirety of the theatre, immersing the audience amongst the action and adding another level of depth to the setting. The entire space was taken advantage of, with the set stretching from an authentic wooden inn and village setting, to a stage fit for a king.

Live music was arranged by Sarah Whomersley and performed by the school’s early music ensemble, The Barley Frogs, making scenes like the battles particularly memorable.

Over sixty Truro School students were involved in the large scale production. The cast had a prime opportunity to work with Simon Johns, fight director for the Royal Opera House, and has helped stage all the many battles, fights and murders.

The tech crew, led by Swen Kearey and Lottie Symes, treated the show like a piece of professional theatre and the play showcased a lavish spectacle of storytelling – a slice of our past, brought to life through poetic language and bold performance.