by Thomas Middleton.

Hen and Chickens Theatre 109 St Paul’s Road Canonbury N1 2NA To 20 October 2012.
Tue–Sat 7pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min. One interval.

TICKETS: 0207 7042001.
Review: William Russell 13 October.

Circus of Blood with the volume turned up.
Thomas Middleton’s play is the Jacobean equivalent of today’s gross horror movie – murder, incest, rape, pretty well every manner of killing you can imagine, take place. It is one of many such plays like from the time.

Immersion Theatre’s James Tobias has chosen to set Middleton’s blood-stained events in a circus, which is a fair enough conceit. It helps make the truly ludicrous goings on – incest, sodomy, brotherly loathing, corruption in high places and maternal deceit – just that bit easier to take.

He has also elicited some decent performances from his cast, notably Dan Martin as Vindici, the avenger seeking to deal with the evil Duke responsible for the death of the woman he loved, Ian Champion as the Duke, Rochelle Parry as his equally awful Duchess and Adam Alexander as Lussurioso, their wildly ambitious son. The plot, in other words, is a ripe if not rotten stew.

The problem, and it is quite widespread on the fringe, is that everyone speaks as if they needed to hit the back wall of the gods. In pub theatres a much more conversational level will work. That does not mean one cannot declaim lines, just stop bawling them at the top of one’s voice.

There is also a well done, but relentlessly unfunny, opening sequence involving a couple of clowns, clearly there to set the tone of the circus, a place in which what is about to happen may be over the top. But funny it is not. Calm down dears, as they say. Trouble is one longs for the hook to haul them off, so the blood-letting can begin.

Lussurioso: Adam Alexander.
Spurio/Dondolo/Offuce: Andrew Futaishu.
Supervacuo: Barry Brosnan.
Gratiana: Claire Lacey.
Vindici: Dan Martin.
Junior: Felix Trench.
Duke: Ian Champion.
Ambitioso: James Clifford.
Castiza: Jodie Raven.
Hippolito: Liam Mulvey.
Antonio/Various: Phil Piggott.
Duchess: Rochelle Parry.

Director: James Tobias.
Assistant Director: Rachel Cartlidge.
Movement: Jessica Mackeson.
Lighting: Peter Fennell.
Costume: Rachel Cartlidge.

2012-10-14 23:15:29

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