UnLOCKed: Six Bad Poets (Questors)

My local theatre have had their Bard in the Yard event outside in recent weeks, but this is their first production back in the Judi Dench Playhouse, the larger of the two venue spaces.

Six Bad Poets seems perfect for our times: limited cast, setting, and lots of opportunities to socially distance. Written by Christopher Reid (also responsible for Love, Loss and Chianti over at the Riverside Studios back in March), this cycle of poems links together a set of stories about the intelligentsia and the academy.

It is a potent mix of literature, lechery and humour, from Charles’s dreadful and senimental poetry to Antonia and Bryony’s spiky bickering, from Dr Dufton’s mid-life crisis to Jonathan’s vain search for glory.

Cast of Six Bad Poets
Cast of Six Bad Poets

With a much depleted audience (most seats out of commission), safety concerns for audience and cast are paramount, as is explained to us on arrival and from the stage. A one-way system, track and trace, and sanitiser awaits at the entrance. There are two routes in, via the Grapevine bar or into the theatre, and masks are mandatory.

At eighty minutes straight through, this “farce in verse” is a good piece with which to bring theatre back to Ealing. The studio remains closed, for now, and the annual panto looks in doubt, but it is good to have shows back within walking distance.

Six Bad Poets was on from 30 September-3 October 2020 and was presented by The Questors.

It was directed by Francis Lloyd and featured Robert Gordon Clark (insouciant as Charles), Pamela Major (an endearingly taut, brittle Antonia), James Burgess (a poetic caricature as Jonathan), John Dobson (endearing as the scruffy Dufton), Holly Gillanders (student Jane) and Kerri Logan (last seen as the dastardly Sheriff in Robin Hood, now radiating quiet desperation as Bryony).

Image credit: Jane Arnold-Forster.