Where do I start? This is possibly the worst thing I have seen on stage in the last few years. I am so incensed that I am writing this as I exit the theatre.
The writer must be completely deranged. This is how the official sites describes it
by Tirso de Molina
in a new version by Frank McGuinness
Taking gloriously unexpected turns as it follows the intertwined fates of two strangers, this fast-paced story is brought to vivid life in Frank McGuinness’ new version.
This play was considered a masterpiece of the Spanish Golden Age about the pious Paulo who has been told by the Devil masquerading as an angel that is fated to meet the same end as Enrico, a Neopolitan thug. The original play explores faith, redemption and forgiveness.
The play starts off in a different era, in 17th Century medieval costume and the first 3 actors on stage are not bad. Within 5 minutes, it all starts to collapse. The play then it transforms into a very bad gangster pastiche, the very oddly camp lead gangster Enrico is played by Bertie Carvel. Think Vinnie Jones cissified.
At this point I am so put off, especially the scene where he batters some poor sod to death, we get a great view of his backside but thankfully no builders cleavage as this was shielded by some equally camp animal print pants. His own or part of the wardrobe, who knows?
The whole cast then comes on in contemporary clothes and leading lady Celia, played by Leanne Best, has changed from her long satin medieval gown into a body con con dress. In the last scene she was in her medieval costume and her ganster was in contempary clothes. Bizarre. Not sure how this helps to tell the story. At some point, swat teams absail down onto the stage. What is the point of that?
By now I was totally distracted and distressed. I can’t follow the story . I have no idea what is going on.
I had to leave at the interval. Could not bear to sit through the second half. It seems they have cut the running length by 30 minutes. Not sure it helps. The usher tells us that the baddie reforms and the pious hermit then meets a nasty end that was awaiting the gangster.
This was not the quality I expect from a National Theatre production. Whatever it is, it’s uncomfortable, confusing and a waste of an evening. Have no idea what the director was thinking.
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Here is another funny review with similar sentiments but they managed to suffer it through to the end.