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The Scotsman Review of Grasmere

posted Jun 29, 2010, 3:48 PM by Rachel McKinney   [ updated Jun 30, 2010, 11:15 AM ]

15 August 2007




Review by ANNA MILLAR
Four Stars ****

THIS subtle and compelling play presents the story of William Wordsworth's relationship with his sister Dorothy. Written by award-winning US playwright Kristina Leach and told from a feminine perspective, the piece not only captures the literary outpourings of the time, but also the social constraints.

Each scene begins with Dorothy giving an update on the weather, from clear skies to harsh storms closing in, a lucid metaphor for the restraints of 19th-century culture. At once trapped and freed by their seclusion in the Lakes, the siblings live happily, until the unexpected arrival of old friends.

As William and Dorothy, actors Matthew Waterson and Rachel McKinney are flawless. For William, as well as being sister and mother to him, Dorothy is his muse, a role that both defines and suffocates her. A writer of some talent herself, Dorothy is confined by her role as a woman in a society.

Those familiar with Wordsworth's work will know he took much of his inspiration from the nature around him. So too did Dorothy, who enjoyed far lesser success as a diarist and travel writer later in her life - the script is generous in its exploration of this. The inclusion of Wordsworth's good friend and contemporary, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Brent T Barnes) is inspired, lending a lightness of touch and providing a catalyst for Dorothy's deeper meditations.

Indeed, as an ensemble, New York's RoaN Productions does exceptionally well with a script that refreshingly does little to skirt the darker elements of the piece, alluding to but never fully embracing the true nature of Dorothy's love for her brother.

http://living.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=933&id=1286002007