Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Weak Edward

Constanza Hola Chamy , based on Edward II by Christopher Marlowe
The Rose Theatre, Bankside
(2011)

Weak Edward production photo

The old adage 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' could not be expressed better than in this adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II which is now relocated to a "random South American country" with a petulant dictator and unhappy military. Part melodrama and part physical theatre this is a production of contrasts, most of which sit together beautifully thanks to the strong cast. For those not familiar with the original story there is nothing to fear as the exposition is made abundantly clear; for those who are acquainted with the original there is still much to enjoy.

Sebastian Concha's physicality in the role of Eduardo is quite simply stunning as he moves from power to prison, expressing love and madness in-between. His speech is at times rushed but the meaning is all too clear, particularly in the scene in which he rejects his wife and chooses his dear friend Gustavo (Dan Van Garrett). The chemistry between the two men works excellently and the teasing and yet passionate natures of the lovers is reflected well and not too gratuitously. If it weren't for the greed and lust for absolute power it would be quite a sweet love story! Van Garrett also doubles up as Luz, the assassin in act two, and could not play a more contrasting character, bringing humour and menace to the role with a small dollop of audience interaction.

However the women are integral to the production, and the combination of Isabel (Eleanor Appleton), Myriam (Elizabeth Bloom) and Beatriz (Lisa Depuis) demonstrates that the female mind is not to be underestimated in power struggles. Appleton's Isabel transforms in the course of the play, slowly morphing into an Eva Peron-like figure with Bloom and Depuis providing the backing for her development. Their wit and broad physical humour add hugely to this topsy-turvy world as they conspire for their own gains.

Even given its intention to be a parody there are times when the action is slightly too large for the space and a few of the musical interjections jar. The pace is rapid, however, and the movement sequences clearly well rehearsed and executed. The cast interact brilliantly and with a more boisterous audience could raise even more laughs. The inclusion of topical comments (including a Royal Wedding gag) gives the adaptation a fresh twist and, given the current state of the world, it seems a little naughty to laugh at the (deliberate) absurdity of the piece.

Running 30th April

Reviewer: Amy Yorston