FIESCO To 23 February.


by Friedrich von Schiller adapted by Mark Leipacher and Daniel Millar.

New Diorama In rep to 23 February 2013.
16, 18, 19, 22 31 Jan, 7, 15, 20 Feb 7.30pm mat 2, 16, 23 Feb 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7383 9034.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 January.

What a Fiesco.
Their journey through the plays of German Enlightenment dramatist Friedrich von Schiller makes Faction theatre company a significant part of our dramatic scene. Some Schiller plays (Mary Stuart, Don Carlos) have outings over here today, but director Mark Leipacher reveals how, for all the long speeches (which he often enough abridges) and unfashionable sentiment, Schiller’s plays contain vivid dramatic arguments, delineating individuals’ thought-processes and dilemmas at crucial moments in the affairs of nations.

Leipacher and his cast certainly have the measure of the playwright’s second, virtually unknown, piece, though, with two established classics to come in this year’s New Diorama classics season, this year’s company at first sight seems more varied in quality than the 2012 group, whose Mary Stuart was so grippingly vibrant.

This, though, is a less-focused piece, on more unfamiliar ground. Specifically, 16th-century Genoa where revolt’s brewing as 80-year old Doge Andreas is about to cede power to his tyrant-in-waiting nephew Gianettino. In one of several aspects that could point to Shakespeare’s influence on Schiller, the high-born rebels wonder if Count Fiesco, Prince Hal style, is more than the playboy he first appears.

Leipacher’s skill with group movement is evident in the sway of masked partygoers, tramping columns and Gareth Fordred’s transformation between uncle and nephew, but he’s excellent too at isolating individual moments. In a play where death is planned, executed or thwarted repeatedly the stage is suddenly left silent and still for the most fatal blow. And Fiesco’s thoughts are clearly argued, partly thanks to the staging, partly to experienced Factionalist Richard Delaney’s composed performance as Fiesco argues with others, and debates within himself, against a republic and in favour of a benign despotism (doubtless flavour of the era in Germany’s court theatres).

The production’s firmest when passion can be expressed through intense restraint rather than in the more rhetorical style that sometimes seems called for. And while Kate Sawyer’s scheming Countess provides plenty of humour, she comes without the menace that would turn a review-sketch into a dramatic character. There are roughnesses elsewhere. But this is fresh, vigorous and makes Schiller’s arguments thrillingly clear.

Lornellino: Andrew Chevalier.
Fiesco: Richard Delaney.
Gianettino: Gareth Fordred.
Leonora: Laura Freeman.
Verrina: Alexander Guiney.
Calcagno: Lachlan McCall.
Zenturione: Jonny McPherson.
Arabella: Derval Mellett.
Sacco: Sam Millard.
Hassan: Anna-Maria Nabirye.
Bourgognino: Jonathan Plummer.
Julia: Kate Sawyer.
Bertha: Elizabeth Twells.

Director: Mark Leipacher.
Lighting: Martin Dewar.
Composer: Thomas Whitelaw.

2013-01-13 11:50:28

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