Frobisher’s Gold

Tuesday 24 October 2006

As Elizabethan explorer Sir Martin Frobisher was searching for the (then) theoretical Northwest Passage, he discovered a marvellous black mineral from which he was convinced gold could be extracted. He transported it back to England in copious quantities, only to find that “Frobisher’s Gold” – although quite sparkly – was worthless.

And so it was that the West End Whingers were gifted of a hook for their review when they sat through two-and-a-half hours of Frobisher’s Gold at the Shaw Theatre in the heart of London’s glamorous Euston Road.

In actual fact, Phil was spared this experience. Andrew took along would-be whinger Neil just to check that the whingers haven’t lost the plot when it comes to theatre criticism – can they really have seen so much rubbish at the theatre? But Andrew is pleased to report that all is well with the WEW dramatic compass which does indeed point firmly towards true crap.

The play opens as a history (albeit with a free sprinkling of anachronisms) featuring the usual Elizabethan suspects – Essex, Walsingham and in this case Frobisher – and trundles along in this manner until the interval (end of Act III!), at which point it drifts into surrealism which culminates in the major characters transforming into animals. It’s all kind of explained, but in a “it was all a dream” kind of way.

Frobisher’s Gold was written by Fraser Grace under the patronage of Menagerie – “a leading independent producer of new writing for the stage” which only goes to reinforce Andrew’s view that, on the whole, new writing should be suppressed rather than encouraged. In fact Andrew rushed home after the show to instruct his lawyers to set up an endowment to fund a foundation for this very purpose.

Poor Janet Suzman – remember her from the film Nicholas & Alexandra and the seventies TV series Clayhanger? She’s an excellent actress and her performance as Elizabeth I rises far above the material. But one imagines her next gig as Volumnia in Coriolanus (which will round off the RSC’s Complete Works Festival) can’t come round soon enough for her.

The costumes, sets and make-up don’t help. They put Andrew in mind of a university dramasoc production. Actually, this production might have worked quite well in the informal intimacy of a pub theatre, but the Shaw Theatre is too large to do anything other than show this production up as rather tatty and low-budget.

So, was it value for money? Andrew and Neil paid just £10 for the tickets which they thought was worth paying to see the woefully underexposed Suzman.

But when Elizabeth reprises herutterancee that “underachievement” bugs her (yes, Elizabeth uses words like “bug”) at least two people in the audience could be seen nodding gravely in sympathy.

One Response to “Frobisher’s Gold”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hello whinging gits

    I did have a laugh at the acidity of this review. But it makes me wonder why these whingers don’t just start putting their hard-earned cash into something more enjoyable? You’d think they’d learn, wouldn’t you?

    Also – as whingers yourselves – I’m sure you won’t mind me correcting your spelling in the standfirst…. it’s a begrudGing correction. And I’ll leave you to guess the rest.

    Queen Kath of the Andalucian Mountains


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