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Hogarth’s Progress by Nick Dear

Rose Theatre Kingston

Rose Theatre, Kingston - 04 October 2018

Hogarth’s Progress   by Nick Dear

Salacious, Sordid and Stupendous


Hogarth’s Progress


by Nick Dear


Double Bill: The Art of Success and The Taste of the Town

World Premiere Production: RTK Productions at The Rose Theatre, Kingston until 21st October


Double review by Mark Aspen


Strip Me Naked, A Kick in the Guts, Cuckold’s Comfort:  just a sample of the labels on gins from the nine thousand gin shops in the London of the 1750’s.  Perhaps you would like to visit one, or perhaps a cock-fight, a brothel, a public flogging.  As one of his contemporaries said, “It would take a Hogarth to describe” what you might see. 


“It would take a Hogarth to describe” the rollicking, riotous, rumbustious start to The Rose Theatre’s The Art of Success, as it creates Georgian London before your very eyes, and then it is Hogarth himself who, with a huge splash of paint onto a giant canvas, opens that world vicariously to us.


And “it takes Hogarth to describe” and show us the scene at the Sublime Society where its “gentlemen” members, well into their wonted pub crawl, lie, somnolent and sozzled, amidst half devoured joints of meat and piles of empty bottles, awaking to plan the next round of the evening’s entertainment in the brothel upstairs.


The Art of Success is set around one such night for William Hogarth in 1730 and the days of its aftermath.  The Taste of the Town mirrors that night thirty years on, with Hogarth still (mis-)firing on all cylinders in 1760, and the months of its aftermath.  Against this background wash, the double bill paints a portrait of the matchless William Hogarth, artist, social commentator and champion of innovative art and British genius, in Hogarth’s Progress, a robust blockbuster that is altogether salacious, sordid and stupendous!


Upon this canvas, director Anthony Banks splashes a dynamic depiction of Hogarth’s world.  His approach may replicate the overstated view of the debauched times of Hogarth’s own series of Progress etchings.  It may caricature the personalities who inhabit it, but they all deserve to be writ large.  The picture is colourful in its darkness, big and bold, roaring and robust … …


Read Mark Aspen’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/hogarth


Photography by Manuel Harlan

Hogarth’s Progress by Nick Dear

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