Brief Lives

Patrick Garland

26 June - 6 July - Matinees on Saturdays


John Aubrey, the 17th century "gossip columnist of his day" recounts his sometimes bawdy, sometimes instructive, and always entertaining gossip that he has been collecting all his life. He can justly be claimed as the first English biographer and he tells us how Sir Walter Raleigh had his way with the ladies; gives a slanderous account of William Shakespeare and recounts how the Earl of Oxford embarrassed himself in front of Queen Elizabeth.
A one-man show, Brief Lives was famously staged in 1969 starring Roy Dotrice. The production has been performed worldwide since then and Dotrice himself went on to play Aubrey for more than 1,700 performances which still warrants a mention in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-running one-man show.
This production features local actor, Adrian Monahan. Adrian ?has worked widely in theatre, televison and radio both as an actor and director.



The 17th Century's John Aubrey was the gossip columnist of his day, writing about who has begat who and who has been hung, drawn and quartered and had his liver preserved for posterity (one of The Wightman Theatre's more unusual props). He?s concerned about the decline of the Nation?s moral compass since good old Queen Bess died and the insidious progress of the plague. He's also cataloguing the population's foolhardy reliance on curious cures, such as "The Drench".

Aubrey sits in his fusty, russet chamber; surrounded by the accumulated clutter of his long life. Adrian Monahan's solo performance pulls on the doddery old man's persona like a pair of well-worn slippers. His stories gather momentum like a passing wave, cresting with a punchline or putdown, before subsiding again. He dishes the dirt on Sir Walter Raleigh ('a piggy-eyed wencher') and castigates the brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury for failing to catch a young lady when she threw herself from the top of Shrewsbury Abbey.

It?s a lovely performance, as he tells his tales with a merry countenance and twinkling eye.

The episodic play cries out for a worthwhile through line, but the snippets are engaging and charmingly enlightening about an era normally only described by courtiers and generals. The recurring theme is the Civil War, but instead of the victor's propaganda, we hear how London was ablaze with bonfires as the church bells are smelted into cannons.

Director Beverley Baker preserves the play's nice touches. Halfway through, Aubrey falls asleep in his chair and the audience has to creep out to the bar without disturbing him?and then creep back in again, 20 minutes later. All in all, Aubrey's "Brief Lives" are very brief - but beautifully observed.



Select a Date

Date Time Venue Notes Prices Booking Link

Available Performances

3 July 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
4 July 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
5 July 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
6 July 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
26 June 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
27 June 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
28 June 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
29 June 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
30 June 7.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
5 July 2.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online
30 June 2.30pm £15 in Advance £18 on the door The Wightman £15 Book Online

Sold out Performances

Concessions*: (OAPs, students and unemployed)

For Schools and Group Bookings please either call 01743 290704 or email bookings@marchestheatre.co.uk
*ID required. All discounts are subject to availability

Adrian Monahan

John Aubrey

Reviews

5 stars 5,Shropshire Star, Virtual Shropshire, Whats on Live,Chris Eldon Lee
The 17th Century’s John Aubrey was the gossip columnist of his day, writing about who has begat who and who has been hung, drawn and quartered and had his liver preserved for posterity (one of The Wightman Theatre’s more unusual props). He’s concerned about the decline of the Nation’s moral compass since good old Queen Bess died and the insidious progress of the plague. He’s also cataloguing the population’s foolhardy reliance on curious cures, such as ‘The Drench’.

Audrey sits in his fusty, russet chamber; surrounded by the accumulated clutter of his long life. Adrian Monahan’s solo performance pulls on the doddery old man’s persona like a pair of well-worn slippers. His stories gather momentum like a passing wave, cresting with a punchline or putdown, before subsiding again. He dishes the dirt on Sir Walter Raleigh (“a piggy-eyed wencher”) and castigates the brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury for failing to catch a young lady when she threw herself from the top of Shrewsbury Abbey.

It’s a lovely performance, as he tells his tales with a merry countenance and twinkling eye.

The episodic play cries out for a worthwhile through line, but the snippets are engaging and charmingly enlightening about an era normally only described by courtiers and generals. The recurring theme is the Civil War, but instead of the victor’s propaganda, we hear how London was ablaze with bonfires as the church bells are smelted into cannons.

Director Beverley Baker preserves the play’s nice touches. Halfway through, Aubrey falls asleep in his chair and the audience has to creep out to the bar without disturbing him…and then creep back in again, 20 minutes later. All in all, Aubrey’s ‘Brief Lives’ are very brief…but beautifully observed. Click here to read the full review.

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