by Nick Dear
Rose Theatre Kingston September – October 2018
**** Dazzling double bill – Anthony Banks’s production offers a vivid panorama of 18th century London and contains striking performances. Michael Billington, The Guardian
**** In its depiction of the murk and the class tussles of the 18th century, Anthony Banks’s ambitious and expansive pair of productions win you over – superbly realised. Dominic Maxwell, The Times
Set in an imagined version of eighteenth century London, Hogarth’s Progress is a riotous double bill of plays following one of Britain’s most celebrated artists on two spectacularly wild days and nights – one at the beginning of his career and one at the end.
The plays explore the extraordinary life of William Hogarth and the commercialisation of art in a time that saw British culture spring from the drawing rooms of the wealthy into ordinary houses across the country. Filled with political satire, boisterous romps and sleazy characters, Hogarth’s Progress is an extraordinary theatrical event.
The double bill begins with the first major revival of The Art of Success, which was first performed by the RSC in 1986 before transferring to the Barbican and New York. Compressing the artist’s ascent to fame into a single, action-filled night, Dear follows a larger-than-life Hogarth as he mingles with famous playwrights and artists, royalty and prostitutes, prime ministers and murderesses creating an exceedingly imaginative, thoroughly scurrilous, but nonetheless highly entertaining portrait of a world on the brink of transformation. The second play, The Taste of the Town, catches up with Hogarth 30 years later, finding him now hugely successful, yet still at odds with the world and with himself. Old and tired he may be, but there’s always time for one more fight.
Cast Keith Allen, Ruby Bentall, Emma Cunniffe, Ben Deery, Jack Derges, Bryan Dick, Ian Hallard, Susannah Harker, Jasmine Jones, Sylvestra le Touzel, Mark Umbers
Design Andrew D Edwards
Video Design Douglas O’Connell
Lighting James Whiteside
Music Olly Fox
Sound Max Pappenheim
Fights RC Annie
Casting Stuart Burt
Producers Jerry Gunn, David Sloan