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11:43am Wednesday 30th April 2014 in Entertainments
BETHLAM Hospital in London was the first to specialise in the treatment of the insane.
The nickname of this notorious institution of the past was Bedlam, a word that has come to mean a place of chaos and madness.
Its noxious 18th century mix of suffering, confusion and misunderstanding is expertly brought to life by members of Salisbury Playhouse’s Stage ’65.
The atmosphere created in the Salberg Studio is even more impressive given that all the actors are under 25 years old.
Reece Evans put in a mesmerising performance as Dr Carew, a man who taunts and tortures his patients while knocking back the gin and terrorising his wife and son.
Calum Rowan was superb as the poet Laurence, waxing lyrical about idealistic, romantic love while showing precious little understanding of caring and compassion in the real world.
New to Bedlam and at the centre of the play’s action is country wench May, played with appealing vulnerability by Hannah Speed.
The cast meld together to paint a portrait of a hard time made even harder for those unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of the madmen running the asylum.
This was a very mature and moving performance of a thought-provoking work from Dorset dramatist and novelist Nell Leyshon, in the first play to be commissioned from a female playwright by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
* Bedlam is at the Salberg Studio, Salisbury Playhouse until Saturday. Tickets and information from 01722 320333 or salisburyplayhouse.com.
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