Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Massacre At Paris


IT is fitting that in the 450th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Marlowe, the theatre where many of his plays were originally performed, is showcasing some of his best work as part of its current season.
The Massacre At Paris was the last play that Marlowe wrote and a new adaptation of it is now being staged at the Rose Theatre, Bankside, the theatre where it was first performed in January 1593, just four months before Marlowe's murder in Deptford.
As its name suggests, it is a brutal and bloody piece with death a-plenty. In fact it could almost be renamed People Pie such is the body count when the curtain finally comes down.
The play is a mere 90 minutes in length, yet it romps through 20 years of the French Wars of Religion, beginning with the marriage of the catholic sister of Charles IX of France to the protestant Henry, King of Navarre, a marriage promising religious peace – a peace that is destroyed by the scheming Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici, in league with the villainous Duke of Guise, the ultimate Marlovian over-reacher.
The first murder takes place within the first 10 minutes of the play and it's not long after that that we see the carefully planned mass murder and notorious St Bartholomew’s Eve Massacre in Paris where thousands of protestants met their end on August 23, 1572.
This is a great adaptation of Marlowe's play. Many of the 14-strong cast double up by playing more than one character and they all use the small space well. John Gregor is particularly good as The Duke of Guise who sets about the massacre.
The death scenes are great too and there is an ingenious way of portraying the huge amount of blood that is spilled throughout the piece.
But despite the bloodthirsty nature of the piece, there is also humour within the piece to ensure it's not all doom and gloom.
As such this production by The Dolphin's Back theatre company is brilliantly executed and performed and well worth seeing.

The Massacre At Paris is on at the Rose Theatre, Park Street until Saturday, March 29. Tickets cost £12. Call the box office on 020 7261 9565.

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