‘All entertaining in a quirky & engaging way’: THE FIRST MODERN MAN – Hen & Chickens Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Nick LambertLeave a Comment

Hen & Chickens Theatre, London – until 2 March 2019

Michel de Montaigne is an interesting figure, and this is a well written and beautifully delivered play about the 16th Century French essayist. Much like the essays of the man himself, it is not easy to define. It is not quite a biography because it really only touches incidentally on his life and times, it is an imagined hour long conversation with the man, where you are introduced to a selection of his ideas and preoccupations in a seemingly disordered manner.

However, this is where the cleverness of the writing comes in, the rambling way in which the conversation takes place, is very similar in composition to the way his essays were actually written, with detours, diversions and asides taking you around many different ideas before bringing you back to the original, titular point of the piece. In this play, it serves to capture what you could think of as the personality of de Montaigne.

The Hen & Chickens theatre is a good venue to see this play, because it is intimate enough to give the feeling of a personal conversation. Jonathan Hansler takes full advantage and engages members of the audience individually – he makes Michel de Montagne chatty and affable. The author, Michael Barry, and actor have worked together well, both obviously care for the man they are displaying onstage, and their combination of talents makes him a likeable figure full of interesting concepts, some deep and insightful, some weird, but all entertaining in a quirky and engaging way.

I particularly enjoyed this play, possibly helped by knowing a little of his work before I attended. The quality of the writing and the delivery of the words ensure that there is much to enjoy here whether you have heard of Michel de Montaigne or not. The First Modern Man has that elusive and winning blend, it is a play that manages to be both enjoyable and informative. Recommended.

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Nick Lambert
Born in London and raised in Ireland, Nick Lambert loves London, where he now lives and works. He set up his blog The London Lark! to celebrate the city, offering reviews of places he’s been and things he’s seen – with a major focus on theatre, his particular interest. As a theatregoer, he’s also been designated a Time Out Tastemaker and regularly posts on Trip Advisor, where he’s amongst the top 1% of reviewers read. He tweets at @NickNickLambert.
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Nick Lambert on InstagramNick Lambert on RssNick Lambert on Twitter
Nick Lambert
Born in London and raised in Ireland, Nick Lambert loves London, where he now lives and works. He set up his blog The London Lark! to celebrate the city, offering reviews of places he’s been and things he’s seen – with a major focus on theatre, his particular interest. As a theatregoer, he’s also been designated a Time Out Tastemaker and regularly posts on Trip Advisor, where he’s amongst the top 1% of reviewers read. He tweets at @NickNickLambert.

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