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The Castle at the Space: SEEN Reviews

SEEN was not that familiar with the work of Howard Barker prior to seeing ‘The Castle’ but feels she must rectify that situation. A powerful piece on the nature of masculinity, war, gender roles and the essential unreliability of religious faith, ‘The Castle’ benefits from a powerhouse cast and a stripped-back set, making the most of the Space’s environment.

Stucley (Anthony Cozens) returns from years at war to find his estate overgrown, his wife Ann (Shelley Davenport) in bed with a witch, Skinner (Kate Tulloch), children that are not his and a priest only too happy to embrace the new order. Stucley orders a new castle built, a monument to the patriarchal order. He forces the priest to rewrite the Bible in the image of his own suffering and ties a dead body to Skinner the witch to drag around. It would be fair to say that none of this ends well, but there will be no spoilers from SEEN.

I’m not joking when I say it’s one of the best things I’ve seen on London’s Fringe for a long while. It’s cruel, sweary, achingly relevant (it was written in 1985) and very funny. I’ve read that Barker doesn’t care to have messages read into his work. He was more interested in a collective audience experience. The night SEEN went, the audience was rapt and tuned in. SEEN did extrapolate a message: The world is lost without the cooperation of equals. We hope Howard Barker is not displeased by that. On until the 28th October. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket.

269 Westferry Road
Isle of Dogs
E14 3RS


Photography Ellamae Cieslik