Review: Puff at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth

Kevin R McNally as Lear
 in the Globe production     Picture: Marc Brenner

Shakespeare’s famed tragedy will be broadcast live in Portsmouth

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You have got to love a play written in constrained verse and Puff, a satirical imagining between Elizabeth and Raleigh, ticked all the fall-in-love boxes.

Presented by Crosspath Theatre, it’s a thoroughly informative and enjoyable yomp through the relationship between the two principal characters which takes in the history of tobacco, potatoes and the conquest of the new world.

Puff deftly weaves today’s societal concerns with those of the late 1500s, addressing racism and immigration with superb words and casting.

Leann O’Kasi was mesmerizing as Elizabeth, against Christopher Paddon’s Raleigh (whose broad accent we were informed got rather in the way of his social success).

A special mention must be made of the wildly subversive singer Pam Hewitt who deserved a spot centre stage for us all to study her reactions to the action.

Writer John Agard has a string of credits to his name including being the recipient of the Queen’s gold award for poetry in 2012. Even though he wove dark humour throughout the piece the loudest laugh came for reassuring, non-challenging humour. Yes, it was a fart joke.

ZELLA COMPTON