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It’s trifle and chocolate in the bedroom and death by punchbowl and banana in Joe Hill-Gibbins’ unrestrained modern dress revival of Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s 1622 tragedy.

Seen earlier this year in the Young Vic’s smaller space and now substantially recast, it’s a messy play in several respects with the two parallel plots unsatisfactorily integrated, a problem which Hill-Gibbins minimises by blurring the differences between the sane and the supposedly mad.

In the main thread, Beatrice-Joanna, daughter of the Governor of Alicante, is already betrothed to another when she falls for Harry Hadden-Paton’s upright Naval Captain Alsemero.

For a well brought up religious young girl, she chooses a rather drastic way to avoid an unwanted marriage – persuading her father’s detested manservant De Flores to get rid of her fiancé in exchange, she believes, for a substantial fee, little realising the real price the besotted valet will demand in return.

In the rather feeble sub-plot, jealous madhouse doctor Alibius and his nubile wife become comic strip caricatures -  he’s a dead ringer for Alan Bennett, she’s a provocative brunette with Jessica Rabbit curves, locked up to keep her away from other men.

Watched through a mesh, with characters popping out of cupboards, the proceedings get progressively out of control, with Sinead Matthews’ Joanna caught up in a tragedy of her own making and Zubin Varla’s menacing De Flores, his skin raw and red with erupting pustules, deflowering her in the midst of  the increasingly manic wedding celebrations.  


Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
Tube | Southwark / Waterloo
Until 22nd December
£10.00 - £30.00
youngvic.org

Photo: Keith Pattison


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Changeling theatre review – Young Vic Theatre
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