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Archive for November 14th, 2012

An adaptation of William Golding’s powerful novel dramatising the building of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral in the 14th century is full of strong performances, writes Jane Shilling.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding's novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding’s novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The spire of Salisbury cathedral rears over the city, its apex surmounted by an oddly festive bobble of red light. The novelist William Golding lived and taught in Salisbury for many years and his novel, The Spire, imagines the building of the great pinnacle — the tallest in England — which was added to the original structure in 1320, a century after the foundation stone was laid.

Its construction was a miracle of faith over physics. The land on which the cathedral stood was swampy, and the foundations seemed insufficient to support the additional weight. Golding’s novel imagines the spire as the vision of a driven man, Dean Jocelin, who believes that he has been commanded by God to build it to glorify Him and bring the congregation closer to heaven.

As in all acts of spiritual conviction, there is a fine tension between the exaltation of God and Jocelin’s sinful human pride. Golding’s novel brilliantly conveys this by means of Jocelin’s interior monologue. Roger Spottiswoode, who has adapted Golding’s novel for the stage, has a harder task.

Gareth Machin, the artistic director of the Salisbury Playhouse, sets his production on an all-but-bare black set of cloistral simplicity, beautifully lit by Philip Gladwell to define the sharp angles of stone and flesh – we see mortality as a constant haunting presence in the skulls so clearly visible beneath the actors’ skins.

Mark Meadows as Dean Jocelin is the image of a man in whom spiritual and temporal desires are irreconcilably and, in the end, fatally at war. He is able to override the doubts of his brethren at the Cathedral by sheer force of will, combined with the wealth of his aunt Lady Alison (a spirited performance by Sarah Moyle) who takes a highly pragmatic attitude to atoning for the sins of the flesh committed in her youth by putting the riches thus acquired to holy use. The scene in which she explains to her nephew the venal means by which his early preferment came about is a fine study in tragic-comic devastation.

Strong performances by the supporting cast, particularly Vincenzo Pellegrino as the master mason, Roger, animate this gallant essay in dramatising Golding’s vastly complex fiction. So powerful a presence is the cathedral in the drama that it would be perverse not to combine a visit to the play with a trip to the beautiful building that inspired it.

Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9672496/The-Spire-Salisbury-Playhouse-review.html

Link: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/news.php?id=682

Until Nov 24. Tickets:             01722 329333      ;
www.salisbury playhouse.com

On Friday 16 November, 7.30pm – 9.00pm, the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, and Gareth Machin, the play’s director, can be heard in conversation as they explore Golding’s tale of Jocelin’s vision in the very location itself, sitting underneath the spire. There will also be readings from the novel and an opportunity to ask questions. Themes include: Jocelin’s vision – was it foolish or inspired? Golding’s juxtaposition of faith and science, the challenges of staging ‘The Spire’ – and the challenges of maintaining the real spire.
Tickets, £8.00 (adults) and £2.50 (students) for ‘A burning will….exploring The Spire’ are available online from http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or from Salisbury Playhouse box office,            01722 320333      . All proceeds towards the Cathedral’s Major Repair Programme.

Special tower and floor tours at Salisbury Cathedral focussing on what really happened when the 6500 tonnes tower and spire were added take place on Saturdays 3, 10 and 24 November, and Monday 5, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 22 November.
‘The Spire’ tower tours, £10.00 (£8.00 concessions), begin at 2.15pm (allow 90 minutes) Pre-booking essential online at: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or telephone            01722 555156      .
Floor tours begin at 11.00am (allow 60 minutes) No booking or tickets required – just turn up. Visitors are requested to make a donation to help towards the fabric of the Cathedral.

Further information:
Salisbury Cathedral special events based on ‘The Spire’:

Sarah Flanaghan,             01722 555148       /             07771 510811       or s.flanaghan@salcath.co.uk
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire
Gemma Twiselton,             01722 320117       or press@salisburyplayhouse.com
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire can be seen from 1 – 24 November, box office            01722 320333      .

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Mystical Landscape, Marical Tours

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