Review of Cell Talk in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 23rd July 2011

The south transept in Ely Cathedral was the ideal setting for a mesmerizing production of Cell Talk by Cameo Theatre Company. The play by Dana Bagshaw is so well written and this company acted so well that the dramatization of the meeting of two religious women in the early fifteenth century became as alive and meaningful as any drama set in current times.

Margery Kempe (played by Tricia Peroni) was the much troubled wife and visionary apt to get into difficulties as she threw herself into her world always struggling to deal with her past while fervently wishing to satisfy her strong religious desires.

John Kempe (Ken Eason), Margery’s long-suffering husband, accepted his secondary role with good grace and did much to add to the humour that was often present. His down to earth, compliant personality helped to steady Margery and her far-reaching ideas, although she finally managed to separate herself from her marriage bed and go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome. As the characters aged, the tables were turned and it was Margery who decided to see to her husband’s aging needs.

Julian of Norwich (Rosemary Eason), a devout woman of considerable wisdom contrasted well with the lively Margery and their meetings became a rich source of shared experiences that enlightened and enlivened their lives.  Few topics were spared: marriage, religion, politics and sensuality were all issues that were aired. We were introduced to a period with which we had little or no connection but threat of the burning of Lollards (people who questioned the authority of the church), and the effects of the Black Death created additional tension to this captivating plot.

Music played a significant part of the production. Voices and instruments from the period matched perfectly the staged performance.

Director Wendy Walford is to be congratulated for such an excellent production that was a fitting tribute to the fine tradition set up originally in conjunction with Rex who is sadly missed.

contact: wendy.walford@btinternet.com

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