Napoleon Disrobed by Told by An Idiot – The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth
The photograph above should give you an idea of how much I’ve been seeing on this placement. It’s more theatre that I’ve ever been exposed to and I’m loving it. It does however mean that my grand plans to review everything might be a tad ambitious. I’ll still try to write something about each piece but it means my posts will likely be brief/maybe not that well written.
Napoleon Disrobed is a play devised by Told By and Idiot, based on Simon Ley’s novel The Death of Napoleon. It’s a co-production with us, the Arcola Theatre and Told By An Idiot. With the play being a co-production, I was given more access to rehearsals than I’d get with a visiting company. I got to source some prop feather quills that they’re still using in the play. They get used for less than five seconds but I’m still weirdly proud every time I see them onstage. I got to be a tiny part of a show!
I’ve been lucky enough to see the play three times now, in its dress rehearsal, the Plymouth press night and the Arcola’s press night. Each time the play has been different. The company has been working on and developing the piece each night in response to audiences. It was good to begin with but it’s got even better.
The play involves some of the most interesting staging I’ve ever seen, I won’t go in to too much detail as it’s a nice reveal, but it’s very impressive and makes for some demanding physical work for the actors. Paul Hunter and Ayesha Antione give great comedic performances as Napoleon and literally every other character respectively. The play is at times bizarre, it’s not always easy to follow the narrative (that said, this has improved every time I’ve seen it, even minor tweaks to some lines have made it clearer) but it’s so much fun to watch that it doesn’t really matter. It is funny and moving in equal measure.