A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

The Chilean-Out Theatre Company presents:

 

Weak Edward

 

 

Based on Edward II by Christopher Marlowe

 

Written by Constanza Hola

 

Directed by Diego Poupin

 

Rose Theatre

 

9 – 30 April 2011

 

 

This energetic parody of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II takes place on what is essentially a viewing platform for the archaeological site that houses the remains of the original theatre where some of Marlowe’s original works are thought to have been staged. Far from being limited by this space, the cast of Constanza Hola’s Weak Edward embrace it wholly, using every corner and a collection of steps to perform this fantastic melodrama with dark and grotesque elements. The music and sound throughout the play are highly atmospheric and fitting, especially enhancing suspense and foreboding moments. Scene changes are fluid and performed in relative darkness. The red rope lights marking the outline of the original playhouse structure are most evident at these moments.

Eduardo (Sebastián Concha), emotionally complex dictator and would-be king, is the main protagonist. Tortured by his forbidden love for his favourite friend Gustavo (Dan Van Garrett) and the unwanted advances of his lustful wife Isabel, (Eleanor Appleton) he has no care for his country or his people. Gustavo sets out his expensive and artistic tastes very early in the action and this paves the way for his demands and attitudes throughout the play. Art, money and love are the order of the day for this pleasure seeker and he is manipulative in his quest for these vices. Some of the characters have painted faces and wear modern twists on traditional soldiers’ uniforms. However, it is in the ludicrous deviations from tradition that the play’s strengths truly lie, i.e., the guard/servant is a fully fledged gimp in suitable garb. The mastermind behind the overthrowing of Eduardo is the boisterous blonde Myriam (Elizabeth Bloom) with a filthy repertoire of language and a temper to match.

The disparity between the portrayal of Eduardo as effeminate gay lover and Eduardo as commanding Dictator is extremely well portrayed by Sebastián Concha. The violence throughout Weak Edward is very convincing. Characters are thrown around the stage in excellently choreographed scenes of torture and distress. Isabel’s conversion from innocent victim of her husband’s “strange behaviours” to villainess is not entirely convincing, though it is made clear throughout the play that she seeks the status of Evita and the love of many, or any,  people above all else. But it is Myriam who controls the action, blatantly symbolised in an excellent puppetry scene in which she pulls the strings and lends her voice to an immobilized Gustavo. Sexual tension abounds in the play and peppers every single interaction. The most convincing manifestation of confused attraction is in the friendship between Myriam and her friend Beatriz (Lisa Depuis) who are both consistently excellent providers of slapstick comic moments. Audience interaction in Weak Edward is high enough to positively engage without being off-putting and references to popular culture are well placed in the script. 

In her introduction to the play Constanza Hola explains; “Weak Edward began as a reaction to what I felt was an excessive respect to classic plays.” Hola has created a gloriously irreverent adaptation of Marlowe’s Edward II. This feat is no mean one and revolves around excellent direction, a passionate cast and a blistering tragicomic script.

 

 
Rose Theatre
 21 New Globe Walk - London SE1 9DT
http://www.rosetheatre.org.uk/
Tickets £12.00 / £10.00 concessions
Shows: 7:30pm (3:00pm on Sunday only)
Box office: 020 7261 9565

 



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