Shakespeare's Lost Women takes in Worthing and Singleton on tour

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

Chichester playwright Greg Mosse brings Shakespeare’s Lost Women to the Worthing stage and on a short tour.

The play imagines Deirdre Compton, an actress who has made a career playing luscious milkmaids, jesters and clowns while her mother plays Shakespeare’s Desdemona, Titania and Lady Macbeth. Unsurprisingly, they do not get on.

The piece plays the Connaught Studio, Worthing, on Tuesday, April 23 at 8pm. It also plays the Weald & Downland Living Museum, Singleton on Monday, April 22 at 7.30pm, plus Winchester Discovery Centre on Saturday, April 27 at 7.30pm and Coronation Hall, Slindon on Friday, May 3 at 7.30pm.

It premiered a couple of years ago at Petersfield Shakespeare Festival.

Greg is hoping to tour it this summer.

Greg explained: “The idea for Shakespeare’s Lost Women came to me while I was watching the wonderful but foolish Nurse in Romeo & Juliet. It’s amazing that she isn’t even on stage at the end. Then I thought about the jailer’s daughter in Two Noble Kinsmen who doesn’t even have a name.

“Then I saw the RSC’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. In the second half, one of the men says that the lovely Jaquenetta is pregnant and will marry Don Armado, a comic Spanish nobleman. I thought: ‘What does Jaquenetta have to say about this?’ And that made me think about other Shakespearean women whose stories never really get closure …”

In response, Greg has come up with Deirdre Compton, an actress who in her younger days played all the young actress parts in Shakespeare, the kinds of roles which don’t get resolved.

Her mother by contrast got the big parts, the Lady Macbeths and Titanias. Deirdre, however, ends up playing the nurse in Romeo & Juliet.

“In Juliet’s tomb, there is the scene where the Prince of Verona turns around and says ‘What on earth happened here?’ but it is Friar Lawrence who explains what has happened, not the nurse. The nurse isn’t even on the stage.

“So the idea is that Deirdre is an actress playing five different Shakespeare roles and writing these songs that give closure to these stories. It is what she does. She has played the minstrel, the jester, the milkmaid roles, and Shakespeare gives those roles songs to sing. In this her songs are her own creation.

“She is the one person, the dominant character, but she is on stage with her musician friend who accompanies her when she tells the story of her life. Colin never went to finishing school. Colin never learnt Latin. He is an earth musician, but it turns out that he is the only one that stood by her in difficult times. She has never known who her father was. She has never had that support. Colin is a platonic friend. They are contemporaries, but they are not lovers in any way. They have one of those relationships. Deirdre thinks she is the bee’s knees but knows her faults. He thinks she is the bee’s knees, but he knows her faults too…”

Deirdre Compton is played by Jane Pegler; Colin Finch is played by John Gleadall.

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