REVIEW – Calais (A Play, A Pie & A Pint), Traverse Theatre


Many short pieces of new theatrical writing are experimental in nature, or can sometimes be best regarded as works in progress.

It’s refreshing therefore to be treated to a traditional, fully-formed piece, which is what we get with April De Angelis’ Calais.

A period drama with comic undertones, it tells the story of the last days of Lord Nelson’s disgraced mistress Lady Emma Hamilton, living out a meagre existence in France with Nelson’s daughter, Horatia.

Emma (Joanna Bacon), despite her protests to the contrary, lives in the past, recalling former glories and more affluent times. Horatia (Louise Ford) is filled with despair, feeling cheated of her birthright and frustrated at the boredom of their existence in the land of the ‘enemy’, represented by the mayor’s son, Jacques (the aptly-named James French).

The performances are strong, Bacon in particular capturing Lady Hamilton’s clinging to the past – and its secrets – with an amusing yet ultimately poignant turn. Themes of loss and regret are lightly touched upon, but on the whole this is an enjoyable and well-directed character driven piece about a little-known period of British history.

BONUS PIE REVIEW – A staple of the Scottish scene, the haggis pie will be an acquired taste for some, but for those familiar with its content, it is a satisfying pleasure.

Ticket information is available on the Traverse website.

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