Edward II by Christopher Marlowe
Greenwich Theatre (short walk from Cutty Sark DLR station) until 27th January
Runs 1 hr 35, no interval
Veronica Stein, January 18th, 2018
The jarring ring of a vivid red telephone begins Lazarus Theatre Company’s Edward II, and it does so aptly: the rest of the compact piece is suitably alarming. Edward II’s first order of business upon assuming the throne after his father’s death is to bring back his banished lover, Gaveston. His queen and his court are less than pleased, for not only is their affection leading to flights of fancy that have serious ramifications, but Gaveston is also a commoner who’s been given titles by virtue of being His Majesty’s lover. So begins a precarious state of affairs as Edward II grapples between his duties and Gaveston- a state of affairs his wife and his court will not allow to continue.
The ensemble of Lords is directed and performed brilliantly. One of the strengths of this production is the lack of faff with regards to the fourth wall, the lords aren’t there to speak to us and move as a crisp unit with standout performances by Jamie O’Neil and Stephen Emery as Mortimer and Lancaster respectively. Oseloka Obi as Gaveston, the King’s banished lover, is appropriately vibrant and witty in his disruption of the court, and Timothy Blore as the King hits his stride in Edward’s most piteous moments- if the production were not so short and dependant on swiftness, they would truly shine.
Ricky Dukes’s direction is stylistically exceptional and polished (no doubt bolstered by Ben Jacobs’s indelicate and deliberate lighting design). That Edward II doesn’t get lost in its adaptational modernity and one act running time is a feat, and that the language maintains such a strong level of clarity and pace is highly impressive. What he means to express through the story is less clear, for the King’s petulance might unfortunately lead the audience to empathize more with his Lords than perhaps they should. Should this moral murkiness be utilized to a greater degree, the production might reach truly great heights. Though falling short in some capacity, Edward II at the Greenwich puts Lazarus Theatre Company in prime position for a bright and bold future.
Edward II: Timothy Blore
Queen Isabella: Alicia Charles
Gaveston: Oseloka Obi
Kent: Alex Zur
Mortimer: Jamie O’Neil
Mortimer Senior: Stephen Smith
Warwick: John Slade
Lancaster: Stephen Emery
Canterbury: David Clayton
Direction & Adaptation:Ricky Dukes
Assistant Director: Dinos Psychogios
Design: Sorcha Corcoran
Costume Design: Cristiano Casimiro
Lighting Design: Ben Jacobs
Sound Design: Jack Barton
Graphic Designer: Will Beeston
Associate Producer: Gavin Harrington-Odedra