Our readers will readily understand the French court as a place replete with corruption, treachery, traffic with unclean spirits, adultery, deceit and malice. But this version of Bussy D’Ambois rather downplayed the context and left Bussy as an over-reacher floating free of Christopher Marlowe.
The story is as ever set out in Wikipedia. I enjoyed the elements of original practice and the way the play had been made to work in the nave, aisle, gallery, choir and pulpit of the church. The fight scenes were especially impressive, and the black-clad spirits did very well in representing sex on stage without it becoming ridiculous and in representing black-clad spirits as well. However, the reverberant church acoustic made it difficult to catch all the words and some plot points like the friar dying and then continuing as a ghost rather passed one by; as did the distinction between Monsieur (the king’s brother who recruits the destitute Bussy to do his evil bidding) and Montsurry (the husband of Bussy’s love).
There are times when the production resembled a parody of Jacobean tragedy, where everyone is killed and tortured but continues to speechify at length, and the text would have made a wonderful libretto for a Verdi opera, but has its problems as a play, at least to modern sensibilities.
But I would certainly recommend people to take advantage of the remaining dates–there is a great deal to admire and learn from in this production, and at £5 it’s very good value for money in anyone’s terms!