Transit of Venus (1984)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Ken Lucas

Directed by Ken Lucas

Performances: Sat 17th & Sun 18th November 1984, Prompt Corner


The second half of a double bill with Ritual for Dolls (1984).

"The Transit of Venus" is a story about a man and a woman of the mid eighteenth century attempting to survive the viscious abuse of ordinary people for the scientific ends of the Age of Reason. This is not teh world of Restoration Comedy but the one it depended on and never mentioned.

  • Action of the play flows between a Deptford slum, Greenwich Park and The Royal Observatory in 1777.




Ken Lucas had previously presented his "Transit of Venus" in the Prompt Corner as a rehearsed reading. Now we saw it enacted in full production under the author's direction. The mannner of the play was stylish and elegant, but I found the point of the play elusive.

It is 1977, when the Astronomer Royal, Neville Makelyne, was recording celestial observations with his assistant Will Price. The plot deals with the relationship between Will and Clarissa, widow of his brother who was drowned at sea. I was puzzled that Maskelyne should have so elequently urged his assistant to marry his deceased brother's wife, surely an illegal act in those days.

But the play was delivered with great panache, with scenes of low life convincingly played by Geoff Munday and Paul Valleau and the events at the observatory tensely performed by Julia Thompson as Clarissa, Maskelyne and his assistant by Jonathan Lewis and Quentin Cobby, utterly transformed from the first play and giving full value.

Donald Madgwick, the Croydon Advertiser - reprinted in SCENE with permission.


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