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Creation Theatre Company - Shakespeare's Saints and Sinners

26th June to 16th August 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

In the steps of Shakespeare

Sense of presence in performance at the church where the Bard must have stood

Creation Theatre Company: Saints and Sinners, at St Michael's Church, Oxford, until August 16

Creation Theatre Company has really innovated with their second production of the summer.

Tom Peters, who has played both Robin Hood and Jesus for Creation, stars again, this time in a one-man show devised by the actor with his director, Heather Davies. Peters uses the framing device where he plays a bloke with marital problems who, by musing on, or playing a range of Shakespeare parts, ultimately reconciles himself with his estranged wife.

There is a real sense of Shakespearean presence in Saints and Sinners. The breadth of the roles creates a holistic impression of Shakespeare's work, not least relating to the Bard's goodies and baddies. These terms are relative, however; saints can be sinners, and vice versa. Peters explains how there is an element of repentance in Richard III during his dream prior to the Battle of Bosworth, while Henry V viewed as a hero, commits what would be a war crime today, by ordering all prisoners to be killed.

It has been documented that Shakespeare actually attended St Michael's Church, where he was godfather to a baby at a christening. How many Shakespeare productions are performed exactly where Shakespeare must have stood? The baby was alleged to be the son of an innkeeper from a nearby inn, Shakespeare's stopover lodgings when in Oxford. The boy grew up to be the poet Sir William Davenant. Myth has it that this boy was actually Shakespeare's own son, based on the prejudice that a poet could not have been lowborn.

The pulpit where John Wesley once preached from becomes a prop for a number of scenes, most memorably when Peters is playing Iachimo in Cymbeline, hiding in the chest prior to stealing Imogen's bracelet.

Wearing sun shades, Peters transforms himself, sitting nonchalantly on the pulpit, into the menacing Iago. The statue of St Michael is utilised as Peters becomes St Joan, who claims that this saint spoke to her. Darkness turns to hilarious light when he plays Launce, the servant from Two Gentlemen of Verona, borrowing two shoes from the audience to represent Launce's parents.

A show of variety and introspection.