‘A tonic for clearing away the winter blues’: NAPOLEON DISROBED – Arcola Theatre ★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Michael DavisLeave a Comment

Arcola Theatre, London – until 10 March 2018

Everybody knows that following his capture, Napolean Bonaparte spent his last days exiled on the island of Elba. Or did he? Exploring the hypothesis that another person took his place on the isle, Napolean Disrobed (which is directed by Kathryn Hunter) has a premise that is inspired by likes of Alexander Dumas. It’s execution, however, isn’t played as a serious drama.

Paul Hunter plays the eponymous military leader, while Ayesha Antoine plays all the other roles. The beginning of the show acknowledges the ‘artificiality’ of the premise, but instead of taking a Brechtian tone, it adopts (and I mean this in the best possible way) a tone of ‘light entertainment’.

Michael Vale’s set, which is designed to not maintain equilibrium when walked upon, aids Hunter’s Norman Wisdom-esque dexterity. Flexible, Antoine is at times the perfect foil for Hunter, as well as having a firm presence in her own right.

In some ways, the plot isn’t as important as the journey, as what one remembers is the physicality of the roles and the ease with which one laughs. Interaction with the audience can strike terror into some people, but the modicum that does occur is good-natured and really sets everyone in the frame of mind to have a good time.

I didn’t have any prior expectations about the show but can recommend Naploean as a tonic for clearing away the winter blues.

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Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.
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Michael Davis on RssMichael Davis on Twitter
Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.

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