Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot! If you can’t give us one, we’ll take two; The better for us and the worse for you!
One of my favourite things about theatre is that it can be educational, telling stories from throughout history and creating an enjoyable way to learn. Treason The Musical does just that, telling the story behind the great gunpowder plot of 1605, helping us to understand why we celebrate 5 November every year.
Queen Elizabeth I was not a popular woman. She spent her reign suppressing Catholicism and favoured Protestantism. In 1603, when she was close to death, a group of catholic men approached King James (who was to be her successor) and appealed to him to become an ally and allows catholics to live in peace and as equals. When he broke his promise, the men set out to seek revenge and blow up the House of Lords. Their plot was foiled when an anonymous letter was received, detailing the gunpowder plot and the men were caught and hanged for their crimes.
Every year on the anniversary of the event, we celebrate by creating bonfires and burning effigies to symbolise the death of the men and the safety of the government. Fireworks are also let off to symbolise the explosions that almost occurred.
Treason The Musical was presented as a fifty minute concert version, filmed late last year at Cadogan Hall with a great cast to tell this story.
The cast is made up of four character groups – “The Nobility” (Daniel Boys as King James and Cedric Neal as The Earl), “The Plotters” (Oliver Tompsett as Robert Catesby, Bradley Jaden as Thomas Percy, Waylon Jacobs as John Wright and Emmanuel Kojo as Tom Winter), “The Peacekeepers” (Lucie Jones as Martha Percy, Rebecca LaChance as Anne Vaux and Sharon Rose as Eleanor Brooksby). Finally in the cast is Debris Stevenson as “The Narrator”.
Daniel Boys is camp, comical and fun to watch as King James and Debris Stevenson really shines as the narrator, delivering the poetic text to perfection – a real highlight. The whole cast are great and the songs are lyrically well written and really help to tell the story. Unfortunately the melodies were a little forgettable and would have been nice to have some really catchy tunes to support the rest of the folk inspired songs.
A full production of the musical is being worked on and it will be great to revisit this show when it is in its entirety. Right now it feels very much like a work in progress but certainly has potential for a bright future.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Gavin Nugent