The Canterbury Tales – Part Two
The Moon House Tent, Perth Cultural Centre
Review: Graham Hansen
For anyone who did not see The Canterbury Tales – Part One, do not let that be the reason you miss Part Two. With the essential concept of the performance covered in the prologue, Part Two is perfectly capable of standing on its own.
Taking three of the stories traditionally classed as part of the ‘marriage group’ in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Part Two follows the lead of the first in repositioning them within disparate genres.
Perhaps wisely, The Wife of Bath’s Tale does not stray as far from the original, being depicted as a faux-Shakespearean medieval romance. This avoids the awkwardness of transplanting into a modern setting the alien moral, whereby a knight is ultimately rewarded with happiness and love for avoiding the death sentence given to rapists.
This alien quality, which is to be expected in a seven centuries old text, is captured in an intergalactic sense with the transformation of The Franklin’s Tale into an episode of science fiction.
Featuring a more than passing resemblance to a particularly beloved series that starred a young William Shatner, the pop cultural references and technobabble evoked more than a few laughs from the audience.
Even with its outlandish nature, of the six tales presented in both part one and two, The Franklin’s stands clear as the most successful translation of the original Chaucerian story into another genre.
Conversely, the version of The Merchant’s Tale that follows is the least successful.
Embracing Victorian melodrama as it does, January loses all of his character’s nobility and with it any sense that an injustice is being done to him by the tale’s end.
The humour of Part Two remains as broad and fatuous as Part One’s, though considering that has been nominated for an Artrage award, the KNUTS theatre company must be correct in thinking that is what people want.
The Canterbury Tales – Part Two runs until Tuesday at The Moon House Tent and is part of Fringe World 2013.