Review: Kemble’s Riot, Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square

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THE year is 1809 and the action unfolds over 66 days of rioting, centring on the figure of celebrated actor John Kemble, but this is no dry history lesson.


1809 is the year Covent Garden was rebuilt after a fire. As a result, actor/manager, John Kemble raised ticket prices 
. . . and so began audience riots which lasted 66 nights.

This production has it all, there’s a wealth of audience participation (indeed audience members are indispensable – you, the public get to exercise your awesome power) superb performances from the four-strong cast, and a staging which gives you the experience of actually living through the historic events.

Written by Adrian Bunting, this is a many-levelled piece, which boasts parallels with the times we live in. It’s also a political rant with laughter, and tears. Laced subtly through the production are fundamental questions for which there are no easy – if any – answers.

After the final curtain, and after the exhilaration and excitement has died down, there is enough to contemplate for days afterwards.

Until August 27