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THEATRE The Canterbury Tales/ Liverpool Playhouse.

Byline: Laura Davis

FROM Geoffrey Chaucer's very earnest opening to the captivating harmonies of the final scene in Canterbury Cathedral, Northern Broadsides' production is a joyful celebration of this 600-year-old story.

Not all nine and twenty pilgrims make it into Mike Poulton's lively script, but the three-hour show is bursting at the seams with colourful characters and their bawdy tales.

These are presented through song, puppetry, slapstick, clog dancing and monologue.

There's even an operetta, conducted by the Manciple, in which Apollo brands his musical white crow with black feathers.

The ribaldry pauses for a single uncomfortable moment - the Clerk of Oxenford's religious allegory about a bride sorely tested by her Marquis husband ending with a tableau resembling a Renaissance Biblical painting.

Chaucer himself is shown as a sort of 14th-century Dylan Thomas, eavesdropping on yarns being spun in the pub and scribbling them down in his notebook.

..... A nice twist is that while even the most lowly pilgrim musters up some level of eloquence, when it comes to the narrator's own turn he is quickly gonged off stage.

Far from being an endurance test, this is one pilgrimage that delights from start to end.

Laura Davis
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2010
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