The Canterbury Tales

There are three things which are undeniably British: Geoffrey Chaucer, trains and casual drinking. Combine the three and you’ve got an entertaining piece of student theatre with an upper lip so stiff you could chisel a bust of the Queen with it. In this new adaptation, directed by Alex Thomas and Polly Tisdale, the train to Canterbury has ground to a halt, forcing them to tell anecdotes from their lives to pass the time in the cramped train cart. Some are funny, some are tinged with sadness, but none of them fail to amuse.

An entertaining piece of student theatre with an upper lip so stiff you could chisel a bust of the Queen with it.

There are some outstanding stories here - the Miller’s tale in particular was presented and acted beautifully. There were also some surprisingly funny comic turns and unexpected gags, all of which were helped by some displays of great character acting. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen it done by performers with twice the age and experience of the Magdalen College School performers; the vigour with which some of the students approached their roles was clear. The strongest performance was from Chaucer himself, who maintained such an air of blissful bemusement throughout that it was easy to believe him the omnipotent writer. However, it’s also very clear that this production has flaws. Many of the scene changes, despite the musical fanfare, felt flat and a little awkward. Some lines felt as if they were simply being read aloud rather than acted which appeared to be from lack of confidence rather than a lack of skill. Whilst the energy for character portrayal was constant, the show’s overall energy ebbed and flowed; more than once there was a strange lull in the action which dragged the entire scene down. It is at these times that it becomes very obvious that this is a student production.

Overall, while it feels as if large swathes lacked polish, this is nevertheless a good show. If you’re looking for an interesting new take on Chaucer, or enjoy seeing a good lampooning of British sensibilities, give this show a try. 

Reviews by J W Close

C venues - C nova

Threesome

★★★
Greenside @ Nicolson Square

That Deadly Noir Magic

★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

The Canterbury Tales

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

The King of Monte Cristo

★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Messages from Japan / Super-cussion

★★★★
Whistlebinkies

Gary Colman: Tickling Mice

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Thrusting medieval frivolity into the 21st century, join us as we stage new versions of Chaucer’s famously tall tales. Who will reign supreme as our characters try to outdo each other with wit, brags and gags?

Most Popular See More

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets