The Roaring Girl
January 13 - January, 28 1983
| The Royal Shakespeare Company
Directed by: Barry Kyle
| Literature: Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker
| Production Design: Chris Dyer
"The Roaring Girl" is a dramatization of the life of Mary Frith, known as "Moll Cutpurse". Sebastian's (David Troughton) father, Sir Alex Wengrave (David Waller), refuses to allow his son to marry his love Mary Fitzallard (Katy Behean), because her dowry is too small. He threatens to disinherit Sebastian, leaving him with nothing, if he does marry Mary. Sebastian plans to fool his father into believing that he is in fact in love with the notorious thief Moll Cutpurse (Helen Mirren), hoping that, ultimately, his father will see Mary as the more preferable daughter in law.
Cast: Helen Mirren (Moll Cutpurse), Alun Armstrong (Ralph Trapdoor), Katy Behean (Mary Fitz-Allard), Ken Bones (Beauteous Ganymede), Raymond Bowers (Master Tiltyard), Raymond Bowers (Sir Thomas Long), David Bradley (Master Openwork), Robert Clare (Fellow, Cutpurse), Dennis Clinton (Sir Adam Appleton), Sorcha Cusack (Mistress Openwork), Stephanie Fayerman (Mistress Gallipot), Cathy Finlay (Cutpurse, Streetwoman), Michael,Fitzgerald (Gull, Cutpurse), Geoffrey Freshwater (Serjeant Curtilax), David Glover (Lord No-land), Jennie Goossens (Mistress Tiltyard), Nigel Harrison (Yeoman Hanger), Jonathan Hyde (Master Laxton), Christine Kavanagh, (Cutpurse, Streetwoman), Michael Maloney (Master Greenwit), Robert O'Mahoney (Master Goshawk), Mark Rylance (Jack Dapper), Ian Talbot (Master Gallipot), David Troughton (Sebastian Wengrave), David Waller (Sir Alexander Wengrave), Paul Webster (Sir Davy Dapper), Paul Webster (Sir Guy Fitz-Allard), Albie Woodington (Porter, Tearcat), Ken Bones (Tailor), Geoffrey Freshwater (Neatfoot), Nigel Harrison (Coachman)
The Dekker-Middleton canon was littleknown in the 1980s, least of all The “The Roaring Girl”, and theatre reviews were positive and sympathetic. Comparing the play’s attitude towards sex and wealth with that of the day, Don Chapman wrote in the Oxford Mail that Mirren’s Moll was “a feminist Robin Hood preaching equality of the sexes and an end topoverty and corruption”. She “vindicated women’s right to smoke and proves female superiority again and again”. Some critics were impressed by Kyle’s vision in staging this “marvellous pageant of colour and excitement” and the “smell and feel” of seventeenth-century London. Terry Grimley in the Birmingham Post applauded the production’s “care and lavishness”, with Kyle unearthing an unknown London – a “malodorous haunt of harlots, hoodlums, men-about-town, con men, downtrodden”. Although Michael Billington found the play “no masterpiece”, he wrote in the Guardian that the success of Kyle’s production lies partly in its centralcasting and partly in its ability to evoke the teeming variety of Jacobean London. And he concluded that this “enjoyable revival… vindicates Kyle’s one-man campaign toexplore the byways as well as the highwaysof English drama”.