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February 2004
Review: The Death Of Socrates
Bill Reimbold as Socrates in a BBC 2 production
Bill Reimbold as Socrates in a BBC 2 production


The Death of Socrates
by Plato (adapted Merivale)

The Burton Taylor Theatre

Tues 17 - Sat 21 February
Times: 7:30pm

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By Neil Dyson

I enjoyed this play. Having spent the day thinking the show was at 7.30, only to find out late in the afternoon that it was at 9.30, I frantically hopped from cafe to pub forcing as much coffee into my body as was physically possible. Having downed my last cappuccino I pottered off to the Burton Taylor Theatre with eyes like saucers and a slight caffeine twitch in my right arm, eager for the show to begin.

I wasn't disappointed. The Burton Taylor is a small theatre with around 50 seats (that were nearly all taken). It has a very intimate atmosphere. This environment lent itself well to the seven actors on stage, all of whom brought something to their roles.

David Botham and Ben Van Der Velde were both excellent as Socrates, and paid tribute to the 'greater than the sum of its parts' theory. Joseph Fenton as Crito looked and felt as close to how you imagine an ancient Greek/Roman as possible (although I thought his Callicles could have been a little more camp!!) and Amyas Merivale, the plays adapter, played his trio of parts very well indeed.

As far as the story goes I will give little away in saying that Socrates dies after drinking Hemlock, having being accused of corrupting the youth of Ancient Athens. He was taken to trial, found guilty and put to death, much to the dismay of his friends who struggled to understand his somewhat unchallenging acceptance of the matter.

This play deals with his time before, during and after the trial and explores Socrates ideologies and the theme that the true wise man knows that he does not know.

Sound complicated? Get to the BT for a good dose of culture and a journey into the life (and death) of one of the modern world's most profound philosophers.

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