After the success of Lazarus Theatre’s production of Edward II at the Tristan Bates Theatre last year, the company decided to kick off their yearlong residency at the Greenwich Theatre with the Marlowe epic.
The classic play, adapted by Ricky Dukes, lends itself to the larger playing area well and although you lose some of the intense claustrophobia you got from sitting on top of the action at the Tristan Bates, the vigorous and fast paced production maintains its intensity.
The stark white lighting and simplistic set give a clinical feel from the beginning and audiences are greeted by cast members moving robotically to electronic music dressed in modern office wear.
The King is dead and after an impressive and golden drenched coronation, his son Edward II (Timothy Blore) begins his reign. But Edward is no warrior and his obsession with his banished lover, Gaveston (played by Oseloka Obi), threatens to undermine his rule.
This modern adaptation is a masterstroke by Lazarus Theatre; it manages to keep the tradition and majesty of Marlowe’s classic, while making the text easily relatable to contemporary audiences by ensuring the dialogue is pacey and delivered with exceptional intonation throughout.
There have been a few new additions to the ensemble cast since it was last staged, with Timothy Blore, Oseloka Obi and Alicia Charles all delivering stand out performances. But the company as a whole is visually tight-knit and works incredibly well as a unit.
The final scene is a little bit too drawn out and the recording of the child king suddenly makes the play feel a bit amateur, as does the unfurling of polythene to ensure the gore doesn’t ruin the stage.
But this a is very small misgiving in what is otherwise an excellent interpretation of an epic play, admirably made accessible to modern audiences.
Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland