Volume 14 of Oxford Theatre Texts series
viii, 138pp. plus 32pp colour illus.
'This new play by Francis Warner followed the life of Rembrandt from his arrival in Amsterdam in 1625 until his death some fifty years later. By tracing his friendships with the great figures of the day, the play explored the interactions of art and life in the Dutch Republic during a period of political turmoil and religious intolerance.
"Central to this cultural milieu was the Speelhouse, essentially a highly refined brothel, whose patrons included Prince Frederik Hendrik, the poet Joost van den Vondel, the royal advisor Constantijn Huygens, and of course Rembrandt...
Such liberated more conflicted directly with the prevalent Dutch Calvinism, whose moral severities were personified by the Reverends Smout and Trigland, a ludicrous duo of preachers... They brought about the suppression of the speelhouse, thus causing the dissolution of Rembrandt's circle and initiating his decline.
"The language, while stylised, came to sound entirely natural, thanks to the skill of the actors, at times achieving a lyrical beauty; and its cadences gave a suitable distance to seventeenth century Holland.
"Rembrandt (Simon Kane) had a commanding stage presence, and his defences of art were some of the most convincing I have heard from a fictionalised artist.
"The play's emotional involvement was very strong, and there were moments when the audience's identification with the characters became almost palpable. This was exemplified by the shocked silence that greeted the deaths of Rembrandt's first wife and child. Death was the overarching theme of this play, and its impact on Rembrandt's work became pronounced towards the end, especially in his final self-portrait where the experience of the years was etched in his face." Oxford Magazine
‘The play is fabulously detailed and interweaves the joy and tragedy of individuals with the background of political and religious change. The language is rich, with sparks of humour and pertinent observations on love, sensuality, grief, morality and art. This depth is sustained by immaculate and engaging acting and lavish costumes. A few hundred words cannot do this play justice. Go and see it." Eva Spain in Theatre Review (Daily Information, Oxford)