Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

LOOKING BACK 800 YEARS

KAMIL and FRANCIS

Theatr Cadair , The Richard Burton Theatre - Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama , September-29-19
KAMIL and FRANCIS by Theatr Cadair To mark the eight hundredth anniversary of this remarkable meeting between the stigmatised St Francis of Assisi (He is said to bear the marks of the nails and the lance - pierced side of the crucified Jesus.) and the learned Sultan Malik al- Kamil, at a break in the Crusades, there have been several academic studies in institutes across the world.

Writer/director David Britton has also thoroughly researched his subject but concludes that “ the mysteries at the heart of the story remain just that, mysteries”. He has, in fact brought us his own dynamic and absorbing account of the meeting in this excellent play that has an absorbing beauty and a touch of poetry about it.

He is wonderfully served by the captivating performances of his cast. As one of the two protagonists, Russell Gomer’s St Francis excellently combines an enigmatic quality of saintly calm with the sharp intelligence of a diploat. As well as courage, as he makes his way across ‘No Man’s Land’ into the territory of the ‘enemy’.

As the other, Simon Armstrong is clear and strong. They soon discover that they have a good degree of understanding in the conversation between them. Of course they have no understanding of each others language. Britton has very cleverly introduced a new character into the proceedings, an interpreter, Alhikma.

Ri Richards gives us a wonderful ‘interpretation’ of her character. She makes explanations of the goings on directly to us giving them an air of chats over the garden wall. Katherine Weare brings us a perfect picture of a present day Nun again interpreting mentions of church doctrine to us.

We never learn do we! The action of the play takes us back to the thirteenth century. But every truth runs parallel with the political ethnic and religious divisions that beset us today.
That St Francis, Kamil and David Britton have served up these ’delights’ so deliciously tells us that there still maybe some hope left.



Reviewed by: Michael Kelly

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