Revengers Tragedy, London, To 27 March

by Thomas Middleton.

The Rose Playhouse to 27 March
56 Mark Street, London SE1 9AR to 27 March 2016.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7261 9565
Review: William Russell 8 March.

Murder, mayhem and sexual goings on to relish
This stylish, lavishly dressed and inventively directed staging by Peter Darney of Middleton’s play is undeniably very entertaining if hard to understand at times. While one has come to accept colour blind casting without question these days being oblivious to the fact that the sex of the characters has been changed is another matter. In Middleton there are only three female roles. Here there are only four male actors, and it all gets very confusing as it is never clear whether the women are playing women or men, when they are not playing the three female roles Middleton wrote.

As a result distinguishing what is happening in an already complicated plot full of betrayals, murder, seduction, and general decadence becomes very difficult indeed.

Things are not helped by the problems some of the young cast have with the language, which can be pretty opaque at the best of times. That, however, will come with experience and unlike Shakespeare there is no verse to maltreat, just ornate and archaic language. The cast play it as if it were a black comedy with no holds barred zest and the result is one keeps watching fascinated even when just why they are doing what they are doing to one another – inevitably either seducing or killing someone – is far from clear.

The plot undoubtedly meant more to the Jacobeans, but their morality in this blood stained play about corrupt lords, ladies and aspiring usurpers is hard to grasp today.

In other words for the play to work today it needs, as here, to be presented as a piece of high camp. Things are helped by the terrific costumes by Nicki Martin Harper which look as if they had come from the wardrobe of some sexually ambivalent Weimar cabaret – Sally Bowles and the compere inviting people to Come to the Cabaret could stride on and not be out of place. At the end when all are being slaughtered right, left and centre three of the men turn up dressed in gold lame hot pants as gogo dancers who disport themselves frantically on pedestals in the hope that they too are going to get killed. One of them, the prettiest one of course, succeeds, ending up with Antonia, the more or less good woman who becomes the new Duchess. Annie Nelson has fun as Vindice, the worst of the plotters, Alex Enmarch plays the virginal Castiza with flair and scintillates as the hot pants survivor, Deborah Kearne is an impressive wicked Duchess and Rose Akroyd as Vindice’s mother Antonia, is very touching, although she is not too good not to acquire a go go boy of her own.

Vindicie: Annie Nelson.
Hippolita: Brittany Atkins.
Gratian: Gareth Watkins.
Castiza: Alex Enmarch.
Duchess: Deborah Kearne.
Duke: Ben Scarles.
Lussorioso: Sophie Hannides.
Ambitioso: Rebecca Tanwen.
Spurio: Emma Sylvester.
Junior: Camilla Watson.
Supervacuo: Allie Croker.
Antonia: Rose Akroyd.
Piero: Olivia Collinge Gawn.
Dondolo: Alice Woodsworth.
Lord Antonio: Kit Heanue.

Director: Peter Darney.
Designer: Nicki Martin Harper.
Lighting Designer: Sherry Coenen.
Choreographer: Alex Scurr.

2016-03-10 10:08:09

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