Patrick Stewart and Richard McCabe
in Bingo
(Photo courtesy of the company)
Patrick Stewart and Richard McCabe
in Bingo
(Photo courtesy of the company)
Patrick Stewart has opened in a revival of Edward Bond's 1973 play Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death at the Chichester Festival. Angus Jackson has directed the production, which is scheduled to continue through May 22.

Bond's play focuses on Shakespeare (Stewart) at the end of his life, when he is faced with the prospect of losing the land he bought with the money made from his plays. The situation places the Bard in a situation similar to that of one his greatest characters, Lear. The company also features Catherine Cusack, Ellie Haddington, Joanne Howarth, Kieron Jecchinis, Richard McCabe, John McEnery, Matthew Needham, Alex Price, Michelle Tate, and Jason Watkins.

The creative team includes designer Robert Innes Hopkins, along with lighting designer Tim Mitchell, sound designer Jonathan Suffolk, and composer Stephen Warbeck.

Reviews of the production have begun to appear and are almost unanimous in their praise of Stewart, and his reinterpretation of the role and script in which he also appeared in the late 1970s. Director Jackson's production is also earning high marks and generally the critics are finding that Bond's script has aged well.

Among the reviews are:

Daily Telegraph
Bingo at Chichester's Minerva Theatre, review
"Patrick Stewart plays Shakespeare, but actually the role gives this great actor remarkably little to do. For much of the play Stewart is a virtually silent figure, communicating little more than a mixture of irritation and depression. And, though he delivers his speeches about cruelty and social injustice with great power and a sense of bitter despair, even as fine an actor as Stewart cannot quite conceal the fact that they are set pieces in which Bond summarises the theme of his play."

The Guardian
Bingo
"Bond's play offers a radically revisionist portrait of Shakespeare and here gets a tremendous performance from Patrick Stewart. His Shakespeare is a tragic figure haunted by images from his London past; yet, for all his indifference to his family, there is an instinctive generosity towards his gardener and a beggar. It makes you long to see Stewart's Lear."

The Independent
Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death, Minerva Theatre, Chichester
"This was the first of several Bond plays to take up creative cudgels with our greatest dramatist. It's not a biographical play, but a bracingly critical allegory of an artist's impotency, even if Bond ingenuously suggests that Shakespeare condones the rapacity of the age by not writing about it, and in signing up to the land enclosures."

----

"Stewart, whose Buddha-like stillness and apparent serenity are deeply unnerving, has changed tack, turning the anger and irritability of his RSC performance inwards into anguish and despair. The severity of the play is still startling, constructed in six stern and serrated scenes of money and death."

The Stage
Bingo - Scenes of Money and Death
"This is a writer's play, and Stewart is an actor's actor - it's wonderful to have both of them back and at the height of their talents. Angus Jackson's moody production, housed in a set of constantly changing versatility by Robert Innes Hopkins, gives full reign to both."

Whatsonstage.com
Bingo (Chichester)
"This is a play that's never quite sure whether it's a critique of capitalism, an examination of what happens when the creative spark has gone, or an investigation of the dynamics of family life. It's a heady mix, but it does offer a rounded portrayal of Shakespeare, the man."

-----

"As Shakespeare, Patrick Stewart has the slow, measured talk of a man who has seen life and has little more to say, either in speech or in his writing. There's a hint of sardonic smile playing around his lips as if thinking that life is a huge joke. It's a wonderful, low-key, world-weary performance."

For further information, visit: www.cft.org.uk.