Shakespeare’s Lost Women review: Intimate treat for Worthing audience

Greg Mosse, who wrote Shakespeare's Lost Women with John Gleadall
Greg Mosse, who wrote Shakespeare's Lost Women with John Gleadall

Worthing’s Connaught Studio is one of only four venues to be staging Shakespeare’s Lost Women, a brilliant revival of the Gleadall & Mosse production from two years ago.

Jane Pegler took to the stage with John Gleadall last night, Shakespeare’s birthday, and gave a fabulous performance.

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The question and answer session that followed the 50-minute performance saw Greg Mosse join the pair on stage and it proved as fascinating as the musical play.

Jane plays Deirdre Compton, an actress who has made a career out of playing Shakespeare’s comedy bit parts, while her mother plays the female leads.

The story is as much about the music as the spoken words, as Deirdre makes up her own songs to tell the stories that Shakespeare failed to complete.

There’s the jailer’s daughter in Two Noble Kinsmen, who is not even given a name by the author, there’s Jaquenetta in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Sycorax, Caliban’s mother in The Tempest.

All feature in Shakespeare’s plays but their stories never really get closure and, as in the case of the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, some do not even come to the stage.

It’s a brilliant concept and Jane brings these women to life as Deirdre tells their stories through song.

She told us afterwards how important it was for her to picture them in her head as she sang, how visualising them brought them off the page.

She really did transport us and the studio is the perfect venue for this sort of play, an intimate setting where the audience is close – but not too close, as Jane pointed out!

Although inspired by Shakespeare, the play is so much more than a thumb through his complete works. It is a play about women, about growing old, about relationships and about music.

It was fascinating to hear John explain in depth how he composed the music and the reason he had so many different guitars on stage.

Mosse promises an autumn tour and with any luck, Worthing will be lucky enough to be included again.