Phil Willmott who adapted and directed Fair Em admits the author is very unlikely to have been Shakespeare, despite an earlier accreditation to him, but it this still great fun. The simple production works really well, performed against a simple backdrop in classic Shakespearean “men in tights” costume with simple musical accompaniment (Phil Willmott seems to be a Steeleye Span fan). The standard of the acting was good for such a large and young cast, particularly from Caroline Haines as Fair Em and James Horne as her father. As for others, there was more hamming in the Magistrate at the NT and this production was funnier too.
(image linked from Fair Em website)
It may not be up there with Shakespeare’s best comedies but it is a thoroughly entertaining evening with plenty of laughs. It’s always fascinating to see something off the beaten track like this and the programme, including the full script, was exceptional value at £3.50. Definitely recommended and a great excuse to have a pre-theatre meal at the excellent Anchor and Hope just down the road.