On the day (April 24) that Adrian Noble announced that he wouldn't be extending his contract and the floodgates opened to another torrent of press attacks, the Royal Shakespeare Company proved that it can still deliver the goods.
Ironically, this was at The Pit, the studio theatre in the Barbican, the London base that Adrian Noble decided to leave. However, the play itself — David Farr's The Night of the Soul — which opened last night, showed that whatever the debates about the RSC's administration and direction, and despite the rough reception that both A Midsummer Night's Dream and, this week, Antony and Cleopatra, have received, the company can still produce first-class plays and acting.
The play's premise is that a fourteenth-century plague victim is doomed to live on forever, on the site of her old home, unless she can find and help redeem someone's soul. One such person, a businessman, appears at the hotel now on the site of her village: she knows he is a candidate because he (unlike other people) can see her.
The play combines elements of ghost story, family drama, a critique of modern society and a very funny satire on the vacuity of the modern "service" industry — specifically "business" hotels.
The Night of the Soul runs until May 11.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow