The Odcombe Legstretcher

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This was the nickname of Thomas Coryate, born in the village of Odcombe, Somerset, in 1577. “Legstretcher” refers to his walking part of the way to Venice and all the way back, and then setting out to walk most of the way to India, where he died in Surat in 1617. His book, “Coryate’s Crudities”, on which the play is based, is about his first journey. He deliberately sends himself up, so parts of the book are very funny and so is the play – which is rapidly acquiring a pantomime feel. Coryate’s very good education and reputation for wit got him into the royal court, as well as the Mermaid Tavern – where he knew Shakespeare and Jonson, as well as Henry, Prince of Wales.
Our comedy was written by Phoenix member, Malcolm Thick, who is fond of Coryate, and loves the seventeenth century. We did a did a rehearsed reading of Malc’s original draft two years ago, and are now going to launch the updated, all singing, all dancing ( well- some dancing) production on the village of Odcombe on October 14th –because this year is the 400th anniversary of Coryate’s death.

We now have a complete, distinguished and international cast including those who can sing, those who can dance and choreograph, and some who can play an instrument. Oh yes, the cast also includes actors. Bettina and I are there to supervise and eat cake since the talented cast is capable of directing itself. Rehearsals have started, and have been amusing for a variety of reasons!

So, once again, the Phoenix is about to go on tour – but, unlike Coryate, we shan’t be walking to Somerset (unless something goes very wrong).

Odcombe