Two Noble Kinsmen

Performed 2nd May – 5 May 2018 (5 performances) The De Grey Ballroom

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that two prisoners of war in possession of each other must not be in want of a wife…

Or so Palamon and Arcite thought.

Join us in Regency England in the bloody aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, as rustics, soldiers, lovers and tyrants descend on the May-day festivities, intent on revelry and dancing. As the country prepares to celebrate the peace, love is in the air – desperate love, unrequited love, dangerous love.

“I love him, beyond love, and beyond reason, Or wit, or safety: I have made him know it.”

Photos by John Saunders. Scroll down for full director’s notes and reviews!


ARCITE- Jim Paterson
DOCTOR- Nick Jones
EMILIA- Jennie Wogan
GAOLER- Ruth Chapman
GAOLER’S DAUGHTER- Meredith Stewart
PALAMON- Ruben Wollny
PIRITHOUS- Owen Williams
QUEEN 1- Cynthia Wood
QUEEN 2/RUSTIC 2- Nance Turner
RUSTIC 1- Janice Newton
RUSTIC 3- Lilou Poschen
RUSTIC 4- Anavey Heaven
THESEUS- Thomas Jennings
WOOER/RUSTIC 5- Jess Murray


DIRECTOR- Tom Straszewski
COSTUMES- Whitney Ivey
MAKE-UP- Robert Worrall
FIGHTS- Neil Tattersall
DANCES- The Ravens Morris
MUSIC- Jonathan Brockbank

Director’s Notes:

“The French Prisoners at Portchester have fitted up a Theatre in the
Castle…” – Hampshire Telegraph & Chronicle, Jan 1811

“Ordinary men died, men of iron were taken prisoner: I only brought
back with me men of bronze.”- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1812

“No man dies of love but on the stage.” – Mansfield Park, Jane Austen, 1814

I have always been fond of the Regency era, and this play’s cast of prisoners, tyrants, Dukes, suitors, overbearing mothers and determined daughters — not to mention the Neo-classical revival — share something in common with the literature and events of the age.

So you may recognise a little of Jane Austen, taste a morsel of Sharpe, or see Napoleon and Wellington’s long shadows cast across the stage. But we have also dug up York’s Georgian past. Our Wooer owes a debt to Regency heiress Anne Lister, who married her wife in nearby Holy Trinity. Or perhaps you’ve heard of William Tuke, whose York Retreat still provides mental healthcare today — although not, we hope, in quite the same fashion as our Doctor’s cures.

Most of all, we have created a prisoner’s theatre here today. Our prisoners are not only Palamon and Arcite, our eponymous kinsmen. Emilia and Hippolita have been captured by Duke Theseus, caught in a deeply misogynistic society, where marriage seems the only choice. The Gaoler is trapped by financial worries, her Daughter confined by a grey, bloodless future. The Rustics might be liberated from war, but their commons and woods are being slowly enclosed.

All of them are set free, however briefly, by theatre, by dancing, by music. I hope you too find some moment of freedom in our performance today.