Writers: Anna Maria Murphy & Carl Grose
Adaption: Emma Rice
Director: Emma Rice
Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy
Kneehigh’s Tristan & Yseult is spectacular in every sense of the word. Based on the Celtic legend of the same name, the Cornish company bring their own imaginative contribution to this tale.
Kneehigh are returning to this work, having originally premiered it in 2003. Galway seems a good fit for this show, which after all does have an Irish edge. The legend of Tristan and Yseult will be familiar to Irish audiences, but if you are expecting a traditional telling of this tragic tale you will be disappointed. Nothing prepares you for the frenzied artistic feast that is a Kneehigh production, and you will leave wondering why all Celtic tales aren’t told in this fashion.
This is a tale of romance, tragedy, and loss, but through Rice’s energetic direction the story evolves into a laugh-out-loud, acrobatic pageant. The show is set in ‘The Club of the Unloved’ and we see the story of Tristan and Yseult evolve through the eyes of Whitehands, played by Kirsty Woodward, who is delightfully droll.
Tristan is played by Dominic Marsh, a Breton heartthrob in this imagining. Yseult by Hannah Vassallo, who is an alluring Irish lass. The chemistry between the two is erotic and passionate and their relationship is the driving force of the show, and rightly so. However, the ensemble work beautifully together to create a frenetic, pacey evening of entertainment for the audience. The live music, directed by Stu Barker, deserves special mention as it added a depth to the production that set the story alive.
Niall Ashdown’s Brangian was slightly at odds with the production. The ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ style of ‘drag’ performance deprived the audience of one of the most interesting moments of the piece, and felt a little off balance with the rest of the aesthetic. Despite this, and a few questionable Irish accents, there is little to fault in this production, which delivers a solid and skilful performance.
Tristan & Yseult is one of the must see shows of this year’s festival.
Runs until 22 July 2017 | Image: Contributed