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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Ettridge’

I’m partial to a bit of Greek tragedy and Medea is one of my favourites. I’ve seen at least one operatic version, one in Japanese in the open air in the pouring rain (wonderful, by the way) and I’ve lost count of how many on stage, though the most memorable was with Diana Rigg at the Almeida 20 years ago. So there I was in Richmond Theatre watching her daughter, Rachael Stirling,  in Headlong Theatre’s very up-to-date version.

The story is surprisingly intact (though Medea and Jason only have one child). King Creon is her landlord Carter who seeks to evict her rather than send her into exile. The nurse, chorus and Aegeus are all neighbours. By the time Jason returns from his fateful wedding to the landlord’s daughter, she has killed his son and is on the roof of their blazing terraced house (substitute for flying chariot!). Mike Bartlett (who also directs) has produced an excellent and (almost) completely plausible adaptation.

Rachel Stirling is superb as Medea. She looks like her mother, but that’s about the only similarity with the Medea I saw when she was just 15. There were moments when I had to turn my head; the intensity of her performance really drew me in to the character and her story. There’s luxury casting in the supporting roles with Amelia Lowdell and Lu Corfield as bitchy neighbours Pam and Sarah, Paul Shelley as Andrew (Aegeus), Christopher Ettridge as Carter (Creon) and Adam Levy as Jason.

An excellent fresh take on a 2500 year old play, but you’ll have to go to Exeter to see it before the tour ends next week!

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I saw this ‘lost’ Shakespeare play as Double Falsehood at the Union Theatre earlier in the year. This time it has been re-imagined by Gregory Doran with the resources of the RSC to help him. I still don’t know how much of a hand Shakespeare had in it, but I really enjoyed the play nonetheless.

I hadn’t realised that it was based on Cervantes. There’s an authenticity about the Spanish setting that’s created simply by Niki Turner’s costumes and Paul Englishby’s music. It has a passionate Andalusian feel and is staged with great pace.  Cardenio’s delay in obtaining his father’s approval to marry Luscinda means the Duke’s youngest son Fernando makes a move on her (but only after he’s slept with – raped? –  farmer’s daughter Dorotea). Thinking Luscinda has betrayed him, Cardenio disappears into the mountains for his King Lear moment. Fortunately, Dorotea searches for and finds him in order to pursue her claim against Fernando based on the fact that their sexual congress constitutes marriage and his marriage to Luscina is therefore invalid. It’s a good story and I’m now more disposed to believe Shakespeare was involved.

Oliver Rix makes an impressive professional debut as Cardenio. It’s easy to dislike Fernando as played oilily by an excellent Alex Hassell. Both Lucy Briggs-Owen and Pippa Nixon impress as the girls, as do a trio of dad’s – Nicholas Day and Christopher’s Ettridge and Godwin. The Swan is the perfect intimate space for this play; on this occasion with the bonus of fireworks and a superb coup de theatre involving a coffin!

Whether it is or it isn’t, it’s well worth seeing for what it is – a very good pay well staged and performed.

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