Edinburgh Fringe 2019
A bawdy tale of love unrequited with a few Elizabethan ditties thrown in.
The long forgotten Tobias Bacon died of love back in 1619, apparently. So, four centuries on, here’s a show to celebrate his life, loves and that tries to cure us of an addiction to bacon jokes and tobacco.
Greeting each audience member personally as we file into the comfortable quarters of theSpaceUK’s Surgeons Hall theatre and resplendent in 16th century doublet and accoutrements is David William Hughes, British by birth but now residing in Boston on the other side of the pond and one who bears a remarkable resemblance to our very own Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man many believe is still living as if it were the 16th century.
Using original songs from the 16th and 17th centuries and playing all the characters, Hughes relates this tale of love unrequited with the aid of a number of amusing pipes, silly wigs and some remarkably compliant members of the audience. The badinage is bawdy, as befits the language of the period – full of double entendre, innuendo, suggestions and insults that Shakespeare would have been proud of.
The music is similarly impressive, with Hughes exhibiting no little skill on the lute and possessed of a fine voice with an enormous range, covering baritone through tenor and an excellent falsetto timbre. He’s assembled an eclectic selection of songs too, from the genuine love ballad to the bawdy ditty and pretty much everything in between. And they really are all from the era he claims – I took the trouble to look up a number of the pieces aired and not a word was changed. Clever, then, to weave such an amusing story around them.
This show works largely because of Hughes’ irrepressible energy and his very clever characterisation of the male and three females he plays during this gently amusing and, at times, quite intriguing piece of theatre. His energy carries his audience along as if surfing a wave and his ability to charm members of the front row to act as on-stage stooges ensured that everyone bought into what is essentially a frothy fifty minutes of whimsical and wacky entertainment.
Recommended for anyone with a sense of the surreal and a love of real silliness.