To be at the Kilkenny Arts Festival last week for the Theatre Des Bouffes Du Nord production of Love Is My Sin, was a glorious pleasure. A 50 minute reading/performance of a cross section of Shakespeare’s Sonnets by two world famous actors, scripted, adapted and directed by the inspirational Peter Brook, was a special moment, a special hour. A performance that I must sincerely thank, Ger Cody of the Watergate Theatre and her wonderful staff, for.
In the narrow street outside the venue you could reach and touch and talk to Seamus Heaney, Garrison Keillor, Dennis O’Driscoll, Peter Brook himself, Tom Creed, Lynn Parker, Fergus Cronin, Art O Briain and Jim Myers, the first professional manager of the Theatre Royal.
Love Is My Sin takes its title from Sonnet 142 and while people usually see these sonnets as young love, separation, jealousy and a fierce affirmation. They were written at an early period of Shakespeare’s life and and span some critics say a twenty year period.
Brook, who is a world theatre and cinema figure, whose 1968 book, The Empty Space, was inspirational to many (myself included), also in 1999 wrote a beautiful, Evoking Shakespeare. His view of this production was less young love but a more measured rueful look back at the hopes and ravages of time, the sting of jealousy and the exile of separation. By the end the emotion was elegiac – No longer mourn for me when I am dead.
His wife of many years Natasha parry performed the female image sonnets and Bruce Myers the male ones. Franck Krawczyk added beautiful haunting accordion and keyboard work.
The work was wonderful and I heard poetry that I knew and the meaning – to change your day of youth… my love shall in my verse ever live young.
For the past few days, I have revisited the sonnets – All this the world knows well, yet none knows well to shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
And to marvel how back in the sixteen hundreds Shakespeare could be so prescient – and yet to times in hope my verse shall stand.