04 June 2008

The Revenger's Tragedy by Thomas Middleton

Vindice - Rory Kinnear
Hippolito - Jamie Parker
Lussurioso - Elliot Cowan
Duke - Ken Bones
Spurio - Billy Carter
Duchess - Adjoa Andoh
Gratiana - Barbara Flynn
Ambitioso - Tom Andrews
Supervacuo - John Heffernan
Castiza - Katherine Manners
Younger Son - Tommy Luther
Antonio - Simon Nagra
Piero/Gentleman/Officer - Peter Hinton
Whore/Gloriana - Donatella Martina Cabras
Gentleman/Officer - Conor Doyle
Judge/Keeper/Spurio's Man - Derek Howard
Judge/Nobleman/Officer - Pieter Lawman
Nencio - Jane Leaney
Sordido - Robert McNeill
Lady in Waiting - Pamela Merrick
Lord/Guard - Rick Nodine
Lord/Officer/Spurio's Man - Richard Shanks
Nobleman/Guard - Ross Waiton
Lady Antonio - Lizzie Winkler

Directed and designed by Melly Still with a bit of design help from Ti Green

Seen on the press night (get me!) of this glorious new production at my beloved Olivier. D7 (raised something-to-the-side}
Celebrities in the audience were surprisingly few to my keen eye. I did see Henry Goodman and SO happy to see young Sam Roukin who is about to embark on a wonderful career (currently filming with Jane Campion and Ben Whishaw) having started as a 'spear carrier' in Henry IV at this very same auditorium.
First of all, my due thanks to Poly because what she lacks in prodigious blogging she makes up for in true theatrical companionship and going out on a limb with advance booking. I even had the stupidity to hesitate in accepting her offer of a spare ticket! Thank you, Poly.

Thankfully, a late start (press nights are usually early but they had a delay with all the 'casuals' collecting their tickets very late) meant that my disasterously bad journey did not preclude me from the very loud opening scene. There we were, engaged in polite conversation when BAM, a noise even louder than the explosion for "Never So Good" and bring on the dance troupe.

With a very strong whiff of Hytner intervention, we were treated to a spectacular production with all the ridiculous ingredients that ask us to suspend belief and suppress natural squeamishness to effect a wonderful lark of unlikely jealousy and insidious revenge.

NO idea what Rory was doing with his accent but I did understand the two persona he was mean to show us. Gotta wonder what kind of mother is fooled by a son who has lank receding locks when he shaves his head to effect a disguise but that's the joy of Jacobean farce - oops, I mean tragedy.

I have never taken one of these side seats before but I can thoroughly recommend the front row of the side (row D) They are ridiculously good value and you feel as though you are virtually on the stage. I really think I had more eye-contact with the performers than if I had been dead centre. Perhaps they spotted the spinach on my teeth. The potential downside was that we missed some of the magic because we saw the full technicalities of the amazing set design. I can't even go into details because there was so much to look at and admire. I must mention the crystalline bar stools in the court scene and the wonderful corridors through the tricorned, revolving set.

Rory, Rory, Rory - you sweet thing. It's really hard to see him as the tough guy because I just want to put him in my pocket and save him for later. He did pull it off though, on some levels and his comic timing, whilst scarcely called upon, was delicious whenever it surfaced.

I have been longing to see Jamie Parker since The History Boys and his voice is intoxicating. A lovely balance to Rory.The play is as daft as a bag of spanners to a contemporary audience but it reassuringly follows the template of it's time and whilst my ritual of not looking at the programme before the first interval probably presented some testing moments, it's all pretty standard plotting. I sometimes get Middleton confused with Webster and this is prime example but if I wasn't familiar with the format, I think I might have been confused - more so than I actually was, I mean!

It was not until towards the end of the interval that Poly pointed out the page for the family tree! Now THAT is an inspired bit of programme content.

Go on - loose yourself. See some accessible Jacobean nonsense on a glorious stage.