THE CANTERBURY TALES
adapted into modern English
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY CHAUCER
DIRECTED BY STEPHEN LEE
Kim Walsh (2007), and
Olivia Hogan (2008).
The Canterbury Tales was presented in 2007: June 28-30 at The Rechabites Hall, Northbridge, Western Australia and also at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre, Bridgetown and the Goose Restaurant & Weld Theatre in Busselton.
In 2008 it was performed at the Wanneroo City Council in February then again opened at The Rechabites Hall May 22 – June 7. It also toured the Southwest – Mandurah, Albany, Esperance, Hopetoun, Manjimup, Margaret River and Busselton – as well as two Perth regional venues: Don Russell PAC and the Kwinana Arts Centre.
“The Canterbury Tales” is an hilarious fast-paced modern adaptation of Chaucer’s original mediaeval poem. Thirty pilgrims set off for Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket. To while away the journey they tell each other stories: stories of love and lust, stupidity and passion, chivalry and greed. We take several of these sparkling tales and present an evening that soars from farcical comedy to touching romance.
The Tales are each set in a completely different era and style, showing the wide-ranging versatility of Chaucer’s stories:
- The Pardoner’s Tale: (Western) Three young men decide that since so many people are dying, that Death needs a good talking to. They set out to find him. An Indian medicine man tells them that Death is under a nearby tree. Instead they find a huge pile of gold coins…
- The Miller’s Tale: (Carry-On films) A carpenter’s wife tricks her gullible husband into sitting in a tub hanging from the roof to await a second Flood, while she dallies in bed with their student lodger. Sadly, they play a trick on the visiting curate, who comes back with a red hot poker!
- The Reeve’s Tale: (Silent Movie) Two students are cheated by the local Miller when they go to buy corn. Forced to stay the night, they get their own back by playing Musical Beds with his wife and daughter.
- The Wife of Bath’s Tale: (Mediaeval) A young of King Arthur’s court is found guilty of pressing his affection upon a young girl. As a punishment he is set the task of finding out what women really desire most. A wizened old lady promises to give him the answer, but the information comes at a price…
- Franklin’s Tale: (Sci Fi) A newly married woman fears her husband has been lost in space. She makes a bargain with a starship crewman to ensure his safe return. On her husband’s arrival the young man wants payment – a night of hot steamy love!
- The Merchant’s Tale: (Victorian Melodrama) An old man marries a young girl, but as his sight fails he grows ever more jealous. He has no idea that as she climbs a tree to pick fruit, and he stands guarding the trunk, a hunky serving man is hidden in the branches…
Comic, scurrilous, bawdy, poignant or tragic: this was an evening of fun for all ages….and a chance to see one of the greatest masterpieces of English literature, justly celebrated for more than a century and a half before Shakespeare was even a glint in his father’s eye!
“…for a hearty laugh and glimpse at some of Perth’s best comic acting, the Canterbury Tales is well worth a night out.”
– Lisette Kaleveld, Arts Hub
“Class Act has captured the full fun and brilliance of the Chaucer writings.”
– Gordon Johnston, Theatre Australia
“The ensemble cast was full of energy. Consistently good were Olivia Hogan and David Meadows. In the Wife of Bath’s Tale, Hogan’s Guinevere was a comedic gem, a beautifully pitched study in pouting capriciousness. She was Celia Johnson on helium.”
– Ali Taulbut, The West Australian
“The ensemble cast is exceptionally strong, creating some wonderful characters who become the lifeblood of this production. The characters are usually delightfully stereotypical but hide some lovely surprises.”
– Kimberley Shaw, Stage Whispers Magazine