Master Pierre Pathelin

This was a rehearsed reading of Mister Pierre Pathelan: A medieval farce with early music, adapted and directed by Karen Crow. Performed on Friday the15th November 2003 in the Holy Chapel of Bishop Grosseteste College Lincoln.


Master Pierre Pathelin is a little medieval gem! I am much indebted to John Woodward, one of our staunchest supporters, who introduced me to the play some years ago after several large glasses of wine! He told me that it was one of his favourites and, although he had only read it before, he would dearly love to see it staged.
Such a short play, with a small cast, was unlikely to be considered for a full production by the company but I felt that it would be ideally suited to an evening such as this. Faced with two translations from the original French, one performed most recently by the famed “Medieval Players” and a rather euphemistic edition by John Allen, I opted to work from the latter. The aggressive quality of the MP version was rather too ‘in your face’ for my liking and the characters come across as Gothic grotesques rather than as recognisable people. I like the gentler manner
of Allen’s edition and I find his understatement is sometimes funnier than the bald Old English! The characters, despite the machinations of the device, still behave in ways familiar to a contemporary audience so we may laugh with them rather than laugh at their misfortunes. The play has an anecdotal quality. There is a palpable sense that these events could actually have occurred and the medieval world that these characters inhabit is strikingly familiar. Fascinating bits of fifteenth century social history are woven into the play and I have held on to all but the most obscure references. The domestic wrangles and the cut and thrust of the market place and the courtroom seem to have changed little in the intervening six hundred years.

Karen Crow, Director
Taken from the programme notes