Four Quartets - Theatre Royal Bath REVIEW

Ralph Fiennes was met with a standing ovation on press night of his newest production, Four Quartets, featuring T.S Eliot’s finest poems.


Not only does the award-winning actor deliver a complex text for 75 minutes flawlessly, he is also director for the production featuring T.S Eliot’s poems from World War II.


Four Quartets comprises a set of four poems that were published over a six-year period.


The first poem, Burnt Norton, was published with a collection of his early works followed by the other three a few years later, East Coker, The Dry Salvages, and Little Gidding, which were written during World War II and the air-raids on Great Britain.


Credit - Matt Humphrey

On the first page of the programme lies the T.S Eliot quote, “As for the meaning of the poem as a whole it is not exhausted by any explanation, for the meaning is what the poem means to different sensitive readers.”


This couldn't be more true for the piece. As I left the theatre and discussed with other audience members it was clear we all took different things from the production.


The common theme which links all the poems is time and man’s relationship with it as well as the universe and the divine. This is clear from the start with the performance opening with “Time present and time past, Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past.”


Personally I noted the historical context of the poems being written during World War II with imagery and metaphors that were very evocative of wartime.


Credit - Matt Humphrey

Whatever you take from the text, it is a real treat to see such an extraordinary actor in his element, excelling at what he does best.


Despite the complex and confounding text, Fiennes could read out a simple shopping list and still have the audience engaged and entertained.


It almost goes without saying that Fiennes' performance was flawless. He had complete control of the audience, guiding us through his words with ease accompanied by his gestures, movement and gait.


If you can get last minute tickets to see this production then do, it’s a poignant production filled with thought-provoking material and powerful acting.


Credit - Matt Humphrey

The world premiere of this staging of the adaptation has opened at Theatre Royal Bath before moving on to a UK tour.


The production runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, June 5 before launching at the Royal & Derngate’s Made in Northampton season on June 8 in a co-production between both venues.


It will then tour to Oxford and Cambridge in June and July, before moving on to Southampton, Malvern and York.


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