Midsummer and it’s the Dunhurst Blocks’ play, The Canterbury Tales. Simon Kingsley-Pallant’s epic production latches onto the Chaucerian spirit and carries all before it. Staged in a suitably spacious tent, with musicians in an on-stage minstrels’ gallery and typical K-P colour, verve and humour, the evening is shot through with topical references, modern takes on timeless themes and wonderfully shameless segues into catchy musical numbers; so The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, which includes an informative short historical interlude about Henry Bolingbroke’s exile, then breaks off for a rendition of Eric Idle’s classic Always look on the bright side of life. The splendid Wife of Bath, magnificent in her red damasked dress, naturally leads us into These boots are made for walking. The Reeve’s Tale, which elicits a topical reference to bursars and makes much of money shortages links effortlessly with Abba’s Money, Money, Money. Happily, as well as the bare bones of the stories remaining, the opening lines of the General Prologue are pretty much there and will no doubt remain engraved in the minds of the full cast who sang them at the start and at the end. Poetic license means that sometimes pithy, epigrammatic modern lines are needed to cement the concluding moral, such as in The Miller’s Tale which finishes with the message that “John has learnt his folly: a poor old man cannot marry a dolly.” Above all there is such a strong sense of teamwork, engagement with the Chaucerian spirit and a no-fear approach to singing, dancing and occasionally winging it. Well done to all involved in this great enterprise!
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.