by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 22 December 2012.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm no mat 5 Dec.
Audio-described 14 Dec.
Captioned 12 Dec 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 0207 922 2922.
Review: William Russell 26 November.
Still forceful but it doesn’t fill the bigger space.
The trouble with moving a play – substantially recast as well – to a larger venue is that what made it a hit in the first place can disappear in the process of having to rethink it in terms of the new space.
Joe Hill-Gibbins’ production of this Jacobean drama of murder, sex and insanity, opened in the Young Vic’s Maria studio earlier this year and was a huge success. Transferred to the windy spaces of the main house it remains extremely watchable, but some of the performances fail to dominate the action and it is more miss than hit.
As Beatrice-Joanna, the reluctant bride who gets out of an arranged marriage in quite the wrong way, Sinead Matthews, new to the cast, looks lovely but her husky voice fails to fill the house and she does rather gabble the lines. As De Flores, the servant who lusts after her and carries out the murders on her behalf, a sort of homicidal Malvolio, Zubin Varla, also new, is terrific, a man driven by desire to desperate deeds.
The main plot involving Beatrice-Joanna is played in parallel with a sub-plot set in an asylum, a comic caper in which two lovers meet behind the back of the woman’s husband – the swain pretends to be mad – while fooling the servant who loves the woman.
As the obese guardian of the madhouse, Lollio, a role possibly originally played by Rowley, Alex Beckett does a hilarious comic turn. It is an interesting take on Jacobean tragedy, which can drown in ruffs and farthingales.
The cast play double roles in the two “dramas” effectively enough, and when in doubt Hill-Gibbins throws in a food fight or two for good measure. These Jacobean plays were the 17th century equivalent of horror movies and this production does deserve its second chance, but something has clearly been lost en route.
Jasperino/Lollio: Alex Beckett.
Alsemero: Harry Hadden-Paton.
Antonio/Tomazo: Nick Lee.
Albius/Alonzo: Alex Lowe.
Diaphanta/Isabella: Eleanor Matsuura.
Beatrice-Joanna: Sinead Matthews.
De Flores: Zubin Varla.
Vermandero: Howard Ward.
Director: Jo Hill-Gibbins.
Lighting: James Farncombe.
Sound: David McSeveney.
Choreographer: Maxine Doyle.
Fight: Alison de Burgh.
Dramaturg: Zoe Svendson.
Associate director: Jeff James.