Chaucer tales get a new twist

The Pantaloons open-air theatre company bring their summer tour to the area on August 4 with their ambitious and hilarious new complete version of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

The travellers have taken a slight detour on their pilgrimage to visit make their debut at Nottingham Castle.

In what may be a theatrical first, The Pantaloons are performing every single one of the 23 completed Canterbury Tales, no mean feat considering the play features a cast of just six actors playing over 70 characters.

The Pantaloons are not making it easy for themselves as every story will be performed in a different theatrical style. Audiences can expect pantomime, puppetry, masks, musicals, mime, farce, reality television, horror, opera – even Shakespeare gets a look-in.

Complete with a medieval market beforehand, the audience can interact with the characters, buy their wares and even receive a kiss off the Wife of Bath.

The Pantaloons, who have received international acclaim for their annual ‘Shakespeare-with-a-twist’ productions, are taking a break from the Bard in 2011 to breathe new life into this classic catalogue of medieval misadventures.

The play follows a group of pilgrims who decide to hold a story-telling contest on the road from Southwark to the shrine of St Thomas A Becket in Canterbury. The pilgrims are from all walks of medieval life and include a Knight, a Miller, a Monk, a Prioress, a Shipman and a rather insatiable Wife of Bath.

Chaucer’s journey was from London to Canterbury but The Pantaloons’ pilgrimage is taking them to outdoor venues all over the country, from Truro to Durham and everywhere in between. Anyone unfamiliar with middle English has no need to panic as the show has been newly translated into vibrant modern language.

David Alwyn, who isv from Nottingham and is new to the company this year, explains the translating process. “It’s all about being faithful to the original text whilst making it relevant to a modern audience. It’s a tricky line to walk but as we were translating we realised that the key things were to keep it accessible and keep it funny.”

Like Chaucer’s rude original, the show promises plenty of bawdy fun but, with something for everyone, this family-friendly adaptation is suitable for all ages.

The show at Nottingham Castle runs from 6.30pm on August 4 and tickets, costing £14 for adults, £12 for OAPs and £10 for children, are available from 0115 989 5555.