The plague. Prison. Death. With themes like this, Four Thieve Vinegar hardly seems like a jolly play to see on a sun filled day in Brighton’s very own Rialto Theatre. Set in Newgate Prison in the year 1665, the play explores the darkness that was left by the Black Plague and the lives of the people that tried to cure it. Here's your chance to learn about the side of the Plague heard about less in history class, but one you may be more intrigued by.
This is a town where 'no one is safe' this play will question the reality we know of the Black Plague.
We started by walking into a dimly lit room, which was packed out with other individuals curious about not only the title but how the Four Tails theatre company would make light of one of the most well-known and feared periods of European history. The scene was set from the moment you stepped foot inside, as hay was laid out on the stage surrounding the various wooden objects that took you right back to the 17th century. When looking to your left, there was a man drawing on the wall, which seemed to be aimless until you looked closer at the book he was writing from. This was cleverly referenced later on in the performance, as the signs represented symbols that would come to be the different factors behind finding the cure of all cures or, at least, what they believed would be the cure. This intrigued the audience from the off and they only got more engrossed from there as the riddled words and pictures became useful mechanisms to the development of the overall plot. This writing technique allowed the audience to follow each extra symbol or unrecognisable scribble added as the alchemist continually re-calculated his formula.
The cast, writer and producer’s work that went into this truly shows as they take you through, not only the effects of the plague, but also the different social dynamics as they fight about subjects such as God and science, as well as the different social positions of those in the hierarchy of the prison. Liam Murray Scott’s performance as Matthias Richards will blow you away from start to finish. His captivating acting truly brings to life the mad but intelligent mind of an alchemist as he fights for what he believes to be the recipe to cure the plague. I guarantee that the charisma and drive this character projects will have you hoping for his every success as though you were counting on the cure yourself. With the writing of Christine Foster, Four Thieves Vinegar was something of a masterpiece with the unexpected twists, turns and an ending that makes you question all the hope you have gathered through the play.
In a town where ‘nowhere is safe anymore’ this group of individuals work together to combat fear, fall in love and create new friendships (some unexpected). It could be passed off as a normal day and a normal play, but it's so much more than that. So let Four Tails take you on a journey back in time to a place that was darker than anything witnessed before.