Posts Tagged ‘The Space’

Berenice, The Space, 1500 24 January

January 24, 2015

****

A publicity photo suggesting the black-and-white romantic difficulties of attractive young people

A publicity photo suggesting the black-and-white romantic difficulties of attractive young people

This adaptation of the tragedy by Racine was really very good.  The basis of the story is that having become Emperor on the death of his father Vespasian Titus feels he has to send away his beloved, the Queen Berenice, for fear of rousing the anger of the populace by marrying a monarch and a foreigner.  Meanwhile, Antiochus, friend and ally of Titus, has for five long years been hiding his own love for Berenice.  In this adaptation, the action is set in an alternate future 2050, as explained in a trailer here.

But for me what really worked was the whole In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister thing, with the subsidiary characters conflated into Phenice as a spin doctor and the characters all dressed in black, apart from Berenice who had a red dress.  The one artistic decision I would quarrel with would be emphasising Berenice’s Jewishness, visually at least–she has a Greek name after all.  The direction was wonderfully effective in suggesting the characters struggling and failing to break free of their allotted roles.

I also enjoyed the translation by director Fay Lomas, while also trying to work out whether it was isosyllabic, in sprung rhythm, or what.  In fact, she produced some very effective lines by making something more concrete (and so English) out of the Racinian:

Que le jour recommence, et que le jour finisse,
Sans que jamais Titus puisse voir Bérénice,
Sans que de tout le jour je puisse voir Titus?

and

Je sais que tant d’amour n’en peut être effacée;
Que ma douleur présente et ma bonté passée,
Mon sang, qu’en ce palais je veux même verser,
Sont autant d’ennemis que je vais vous laisser;
Et, sans me repentir de ma persévérance,
J e me remets sur eux de toute ma vengeance.

Among the actors, I especially appreciated Ally Manson as Antiochus, bent this way and that by a cruel fate, while I felt that our Berenice could usefully have shown more reaction on first hearing of her dismissal, stood up straighter and generally given the impression of someone (a queen or an actress) used to living with the eyes of the public on her–but she was also very touching in many of the later scenes.

A pity that this didn’t have a longer run!

 

The Two Noble Kinsmen, The Space E14, 24 February

February 24, 2012

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Picture from Just Enough Facebook page illustrating another venue

The Two Noble Kinsmen may be the last play that Shakespeare contributed to (he collaborated with John Fletcher).  It’s based on The Knight’s Tale from Chaucer, something that nobody has ever read through without dying of boredom.

On this occasion, the audience in The Space Arts Centre (it looked like an ex-church to me) managed to outnumber the cast by 12 to 9.  In fact, given the resonant church acoustic and the lack of absorbing bodies, the director could have been more careful about actors facing away from the audience.  But an approach based on singing, dance and stylisation seemed very effective to me.  Palamon and Arcite painting each other’s naked torsos with metallic paint had a disturbing eroticism, as indeed did their relationship in general and Emilia’s remembering her dead childhood friend Davina.

Emilia (a very lovely Sorcha Finch-Murray) had some very lovely speeches; otherwise it was the musical interludes that were most effective for me.  I didn’t really understand why her sister  Hippolyta was played as a brash American (apart from the actress Stacy Sobieski herself being American).  Jason Devoy was commanding as Theseus and put-upon as the Jailer.

I certainly think that people should go to this show and see what The Two Noble Kinsmen is all about.  Many thanks to MAST Stage Productions and Just Enough for putting it on!

So that just leaves Two Gentlemen of Verona and 2 & 3 Henry VI for me to achieve Shakespearean completeness.