Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Spanish Tragedy


THE Spanish Tragedy might as well have been called People Pie given the amount of dead by the end of proceedings.

Written by Thomas Kyd it is thought to have influenced Shakespeare's play Hamlet among others.

It has been given a fresh outing by Lazarus Theatre Company at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell and it certainly packs a punch.

Essentially it is the story of how Andrea, slain in battle in a war between Spain and Portugal, wreaks revenge on all and sundry with the help of the spirit Revenge.

But as ever with these revenge tragedies it is slightly more complicated than that and at times during this particular production, which was pared down somewhat, it was rather confusing.

The action starts after a battle which has seen the Portuguese defeated and the Viceroy's son Balthazar captured by the Spanish.

The Spanish King gives the spoils of war to his nephew Lorenzo and Andrea's best friend Horatio and puts Balthazar in the charge of the scheming Lorenzo.

Meanwhile Andrea's widow Bel-imperia falls for Horatio who in turn is killed by Balthazar aided by Lorenzo. There then follows a series of betrayals, liaisons and deaths until there really is no one left.

The production succeeds on many levels though I wasn't sure about the women sewing a curtain at the back of the stage. But the cast, large in number, all got to have their moment and there were a number of standout performances - particularly the many death scenes.

In particular Roseanna Morris as the King of Spain reminded me of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland with a slightly mad and wild smile fixed to her face for much of the play.

Danny Solomon as Hieronimo who carries out a series of murders to avenge the death of his son Horatio gives a fine portrayal of a father who goes mad with grief.

Felicity Sparks as Bel-Imperia and George Clarke as the Portuguese Viceroy also shone.

And if you have not made the trip to the Blue Elephant, you should. It's great and well worth the effort - and if you are resident of Camberwell postcodes of SE5 and SE17 there are a limited number of free tickets for the shows.

The Spanish Tragedy is on at the Blue Elephant Theatre, Bethwin Road until Saturday.

Visit for shows, times and prices.

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