English teacher Louise Lamb shares her experience of a school trip to Stratford with Year 13 pupils.
Stratford was coated in sunshine and we were happy on two counts: one, it was the first day of half-term, and two, I had got us down safely.
The production of Webster’s ‘The White Devil’ was extraordinary. The Swan Theatre swallows an audience and spits it out only once the final action is consummated – perfect for the heady intensity of a Jacobean revenge tragedy.
Live music provided a throbbing backing to the scene. We left the auditorium thoroughly shaken by the ending (I won’t give it away, you’ll have to go and see it yourself, if there’s time!).
Two actors stood out. Vittoria, played with strength and finesse, holding the acts together through clever interplay of stage and screen personae, was the star. Yet the presentation of her brother, Flamineo, also held our attention, the director intelligently manipulating Webster’s conceit in a male-female crossover which was both shocking and profound.
As the A2 English Literature group will study Webster as part of their course, this was a timely exposure to the power of his writing. The fact that the production is still being discussed shows the scale of its impact.
We enjoyed an excellent stay at the YHA outside Stratford and a pleasant stroll around town prior to the performance. Having ‘lost’ two of our number in the south, we rolled north, lighter but not quieter.