by Lope de Vega translated by Meredith Oakes from a literal translation by Sarah Maitland..

Ustinov Studio Theatre Royal Sawclose BA1 1ET In rep to 21 December.
2.30pm 30 Nov, 5, 21 Dec.
3.30pm 14 Dec.
Post-show Discussion 5 Dec 7.45pm.
7.45pm 26 Nov, 5, 7, 10, 12, 17, 18 Dec.
TICKETS: 01225 448844.

then Arcola Theatre 24 Ashwin Street Dalston E8 3DL In rep 10 January-15 March.
7.30pm 10, 20-25 Jan, 10-15 Feb, 3-8 March.
2.30pm 25 Jan, 15 Feb, 8, 15 March.

then Belgrade Theatre (B2) Theatre Square CV1 1GS In rep 28 March-19 April 2014.
7.30pm 28 March, 4, 8, 9, 14, 19 April 2014.
2.15pm 29 March, 2, 12 April.

Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 November.

Dramatic truth and tension in a discovery of the theatrical year..
Eighteen years (and given the playwright’s output, probably several hundred scripts) after Lope de Vega’s comedy A Lady of Little Sense, also in this Ustinov Theatre season, came this tragedy, set among Ferrara’s high life.

Lope positions himself outside respectable society with dismissive references to his reputation – and reputation matters here. The Duke’s love for his illegitimate son Federico is genuine, but he has to marry and provide an acceptable heir. His convenience wife-to-be Cassandra has the 17th-century version of a motoring accident as she arrives, and is rescued by Federico. It’s love at first sight and might well be the driving-force for a comedy.

The Duke, after all, is out most nights seeking the direct, simple pleasures provided by the likes of Cintia, who reaches down lusciously from her street balcony and passes like a brief gleam through his life.

But, just as religious hypocrisy was to infect the life of Molière’s Don Juan and lead to his doom at the hands of his victim’s stone statue, so a crusade injects new moral urgency into Ferrara’s Duke, timed badly for the discovery, after his return, of the family love affair.

Spanish Golden Age (late 16th/early 17th century) drama has been director Laurence Boswell’s stamping-ground for years. He’s at home with all its idioms and subtleties. Catholic doctrine may not shine obviously, but provides the background of honour which steels William Hoyland’s Duke, a performance contrasting the happy loose-living early on with later moral intensity.

By contrast Nick Barber and Frances McNamee (who has surely shot to the forefront of British Lope players in this season) have a genuine emotional urgency in their love, while Simon Scardifield’s Batin is notable among the servants for whom lesser grumbles are a condition of life.

Mark Bailey’s design of dark, gleaming panels adapts for each play in the season, here creating a sense of secrecy in the night-time streets where the Duke goes roving, and of the passions leading to the tragic outcome where the appearance of justice rather than revenge is created in what, we are reminded, had been a real-life event.

Ricardo/Rutillio: Chris Andrew Mellon.
Febo: Jim Bywater.
Duke: William Hoyland.
Cintia: Hedydd Dylan.
Federico: Nick Barber.
Batin: Simon Scardifield.
Cassandra: Frances McNamee.
Lucrecia: Annie Hemingway.
Carlos: Doug Rao.
Aurora: Katie Lightfoot.

Director: Laurence Boswell.
Designer/Costume: Mark Bailey.
Lighting: Ben Ormerod.
Sound/Composer: Jon Nicholls.
Choreographer/Movement: Lucy Cullingford.
Dramaturg: Sarah Maitland.
Assistant director: Genevieve Raghu.
Associate lighting: Anthony Arblaster.

2013-11-26 20:13:10

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