A breath-taking comedy, hilarious and terrifying in its relevance to a post-expert world where everyone can be famous and anyone can write the story.
The London Merchant begins, a thoughtful drama about dysfunctional families. But suddenly, from the audience, a grocer and his wife clamber onto the stage and politely explain to the astonished actors that they are a little bit bored and wouldn't it be better to cheer the evening up with exotic locations and a Knight? Their apprentice grocer Rafe is just the man for the job!
Rafe is duly arrayed as the Knight of the Burning Pestle and his chivalric adventures are played out while the domestic drama of The London Merchant struggles towards its conclusion, chronically interrupted by the grocer and his wife who surprisingly get highly involved with its gritty, unpredictable narrative.
Francis Beaumont's meta-drama burst onto the stage in 1607, at a critical moment when theatre was threatened by a popular movement increasingly hostile to art and culture. A disturbing comedy centuries ahead of its time, it subtly asks questions all the more relevant today: What is art for? Who is art for?
Cheek by Jowl reunites with the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre on Francis Beaumont’s subversive and darkly funny play within a play.