Treason the Musical: In Concert Online
The plot has been discovered, a widow’s heart is broken and centuries of religious persecution lie in store for Catholics in and around England. “So what is the message that this story shows? You won’t get toleration by killing your foes,” Debris Stevenson explains.
Treason is a socially distanced re-telling of the 1605 gunpowder plot (“Remember, remember the fifth of November”), in which five Catholics plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament to kill King James I and the rest of government. While seeming initially sympathetic to the minority group, suggesting that they and the Protestants could live together without religious persecution, King James quickly went back on his word and continued his predecessor Queen Elizabeth’s discrimination, fining and ruin of “people who pray differently”.
The performers wear modern dress and sing at socially-distanced lecterns, while Debris Stevenson does an excellent job of setting the scene and narrating the story. This is not a particularly visual show, being a musical “in concert”, and there isn’t a lot of movement, but the strong script and impressive vocals make it an enjoyable and engaging watch.
Even with the Covid safety measures, there is great chemistry between Oliver Tompsett (Robert Catesby) and Bradley Jaden (Thomas Percy), while Daniel Boys gives a very entertaining (if slightly stereotypical), sexually charged performance.
Every performer in Treason gives a vocally strong performance, with X Factor competitor Lucie Jones (Martha Percy) and Oliver Tompset standing out in particular§. While they are limited in terms of mobility, the actors are convincing with their faces, gestures and glances, conveying the emotion and making the production worth watching with the screen on.
The gunpowder plot is usually associated with Guy Fawkes, but Treason tells the story of the other conspirators and highlights why this happened. While the message that tolerance can’t be achieved with murder (and, in this case, actually set the Catholics course back several centuries), Treason is successful because it is empathetic to its characters, encouraging its audience to see their point of view. Overall, this is an enjoyable and impressive show that is well worth a watch.
Photos: Gavin Nugent
Treason the Musical: In Concert Online is at from 12th March until 14th March 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.