The Herbal Bed

Wednesday, 6 November, 1996

The story is focused on the time that Susanna was publicly slandered by a young man called Jack Lane and how she brought a charge of defamation against him in the diocesan court at Worcester cathedral. Whilst we are told in the programme that this indeed did happen, the rest of the story is based on only a handful of facts.

Susanna loves her husband, but he shows her little passion. She then falls in love with a friend called 'Rafe'. While seeing each other one evening, when her husband is away, they are caught out by their maid and Jack Lane, a drunkard irresponsible lad who is staying at the house while he is being trained to be a doctor. The loyal maid keeps quite, but Lane tells all in the local pub when drunk. What follows are moral dilemmas and reputations to save.

The play is very slow to get going and I didn't like the first half at all. It was dull and boring! However after the interval things improved immensely with some clever writing and slick directing. The play proves to be very thought provoking, particularly on integrity and honour.

The acting was adequate by Teresa Banham who played Susanna Hall and Liam Cunningham who played John Hall. But I didn't like Joseph Fiennes character, 'Fafe', he was always worrying, moaning complaining and depressive. But then considering he was a puritan, he would be!

There's very little reference to William Shakespeare in the play, and he certainly has no real part to play in the plot, which disappointed me a little. I have to say this is a very average play with nothing to get excited about.

(Darren Dalglish)

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