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Posts Tagged ‘Lope de Vega’

It’s hard not to be affected by so much negative buzz but I tried to approach this with an open mind. I’m partial to a bit of Spanish Golden Age, though I’m more of a Lope de Vega man than a Tirso de Molina man (the latter wrote this) and have fond memories of the RSC’s mini-season eight years ago. Then I remembered that Tirso’s contribution, Tamar’s Revenge, was the weak link in that season…..

…..but nowhere near as weak as this, though I have to confess I only survived the first half; if they were offering free Rioja in the second half, you couldn’t have dragged me back.

It’s one of the tackiest and ugliest sets ever to grace the Olivier stage – a big plastic mountain with three white petals. The opening monologues of Frank McGuiness’ translation / adaptation are forced and turgid.  The worlds of hermit Paulo, intent on penance, and gangster Enrico, destined to burn in hell, collide in one of the most implausible and preposterous set-ups you’ll ever see. After fifty minutes of clumsy staging and histrionic performances, you are thankfully handed an escape manual AKA an interval.

It’s hard to know where the blame lies – writer, adapter or director – but I suspect it’s a bit of all three. I’ve had a bit of a downer on director Bijan Sheibani who’s ‘credits’ include that travesty Greenland, the beyond dull Our Class and a surprisingly flat The Kitchen. You have to question why he’s an NT associate director and why Nick Hytner didn’t pull this before it was too late.

I feel really sorry for the cast, including talents like Bertie Carvell and Amanda Lawrence, who have to suffer this 32 more times to half full houses (with a top price of £32 and most seats at £12). They can’t do a runner like me!

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