Tag Archives: Edmund Kingsley

The Seven Acts of Mercy in merciless times

From Naples 1606 to Bootle near Liverpool 2016 – from food banks and bedroom tax to a painter’s genius and demons spans the bridge that is brought together in an emotionally exhausting, gripping play.the-seven-acts-of-mercy-production-photos_-november-2016_2016_photo-by-ellie-kurttz-_c_-rsc_207955

Caravaggio has just fled from Rome where he is wanted for murder. A church in Naples and a commission to paint the Seven Acts of Mercy become his sanctuary.
In present day Bootle, a young boy and his dying grandfather are only just getting by, until the disastrous consequences of austerity are being handed down to them.the-seven-acts-of-mercy-production-photos_-november-2016_2016_photo-by-ellie-kurttz-_c_-rsc_207927

It is a stroke of genius by playwright Anders Lustgarten to subtly and unpretentiously draw on the 7 Acts of Mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead), including the related sensitivities – in the light of the current political and social climate – as a lifeline for crumbling communities.

The edge-of-the-seat feeling remains strong throughout the play. Fun moments and thrown in edification in art history can only momentarily divert from the sensation of sitting on a dangerously vibrating tectonic fault.

Violent but defenceless, raw as if flayed is Patrick O’Kane’s breathtaking rendition as Caravaggio, a character that won’t let you go.
the-seven-acts-of-mercy-production-photos_-november-2016_2016_photo-by-ellie-kurttz-_c_-rsc_208023His model and kind of friend, prostitute Lavinia, a tough job superbly performed by Allison McKenzie, fences on a very tight rope, vulnerable, proud and scorching.
Further in Naples: Edmund Kingsley as the Marchese, in a delicate portrayal of one of the very few balanced characters in the play. Or is he?
And then James Corrigan as Vincenzo … to be found out.

In Bootle, Tom Georgeson as Grandpa Leon is a deeply touching character trying to pass on hope in hopeless times and he poignantly depicts pride and loss of a worker’s life.
Incredibly talented, young TJ Jones as Mickey carries most of the current day action, and he does it with an ease that would make an old hand proud.
the-seven-acts-of-mercy-production-photos_-november-2016_2016_photo-by-ellie-kurttz-_c_-rsc_208009As scary henchmen, Leon Lopez and Patrick Knowles: sardonic and weirdly funny, in true Pulp Fiction tradition.
Further in Bootle: Gyuri Sarossy as Mickey’s father Lee: an achingly torn figure; Paul McEwan as Damian, recently arrived on the losing end; Paislie Reid and Nicky Priest as Siblings Jennifer and Danny; Lena Kaur as Karen, officiating for the battered Council; Sally Bankes as Sandra at the food bank; Eloise Seeker as Emily, the Labour representative.

A spirited and passionate ensemble play, directed by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman.
The set design is yet another subtle thought amplifier by Tom Piper.
Music by Isobel Waller-Bridge.

From 24th November 2016 to 10th February 2017 at the RSC Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

Photos by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

More information:  https://www.rsc.org.uk/the-seven-acts-of-mercy

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Hecuba and the other side of a heroic epic

RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 17 September to 17 October 2015
Troy was defeated after a 10-year siege, it is remembered as a subject of legends, and the names of this war’s heroes, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Achilles, have become immortal. The heroes’ wives and their difficulties have had quite a few mentions in literature and film. But what became of the losing side, the women, the children? 700 years after the destruction of Troy, the Greek playwright Euripides wrote two tragedies about the Trojan women, with Queen Hecuba as a central figure, but still from a Greek and male perspective.
The new version by Marina Carr, Hecuba in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, sees the events through the eyes of these female characters. Hecuba production photos_ 2015_Photo by Topher McGrillis _c_ RSC_HEC-RST-0126Based on and deviating from Homer’s Iliad and Euripides’ Hecuba, the emphasis is with those whose world breaks apart. However, Carr also finds words for the traces that this war left behind in the winners’ souls. A very specific narrative style, in which the characters also take over the function of narrators and commentators, casts a dense spell, right from the outset.
A drama that literally takes your breath away, an emotional tour de force ride and a deeply captivating experience.
Dearbhle Crotty in the role of Hecuba lets the audience feel her fathomless fall, the loss of her children, her husband, her role in life – an incredibly sensitive and heartbreaking portrayal.
Opposite her, Ray Fearon as Agamemnon, the victorious commander, whose superiority seems to be hanging by a thread. Fearon masterly shows the hero’s emotional set-up, damaged by his own actions as much as by what he experienced, and despite all that not enabling him to prevent further atrocities.Hecuba production photos_ 2015_Photo by Topher McGrillis _c_ RSC_HEC-RST-0077
Nadia Albina is Hecubas daughter Cassandra, the seer. Annoying and unloved due to her prophecies, she becomes the cynical outsider. Hecuba production photos_ 2015_Photo by Topher McGrillis _c_ RSC_HEC-RST-0047Breathtakingly raw, irreverent and troubling.
Her sister Polyxena, played by Amy McAllister, is her exact antithesis – gentle, almost childlike, very delicately depicted. A fabulous performance by the young actress in her RSC debut.
Lara Stubbs convinces as Hecuba’s woman Xenia, but especially when she takes on the singer’s part, who with short elements of laments turns the struggle of human beings against their intolerable fate into darting flames of sound that seem to exist outside of time and space. Powerful stuff!Hecuba production photos_ 2015_Photo by Topher McGrillis _c_ RSC_HEC-RST-0012
Edmund Kingsley is a disturbed Polymestor, commissioned as protector of Hecuba’s youngest son and like him and his children a pawn of war.
Chu Omambala represents Odysseus as a cynical war technocrat and David Ajao is the fatherless and yet compassionate Nepotolemus, Achilles’ son.
Polydorus, Hecuba’s last surviving son is played by alternating young actors – absolutely impressive, Nilay Sah, Luca-Saraceni-Gunner and also Marcus Acquari.
Massive applause to Erica Whyman’s direction and the music composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge, played under the direction of Candida Caldicot.

Photos by Topher McGrillis © RSC

David Ajao – Nepotolemus
Nadia Albina – Cassandra
Derbhle Crotty – Hecuba
Ray Fearon – Agamemnon
Edmund Kingsley – Polymestor
Amy McAllister – Polyxena
Chu Omambala – Odysseus
Lara Stubbs – Xenia/Singer

Director – Erica Whyman
Designer – Soutra Gilmour
Lighting – Charles Balfour
Music – Isobel Waller-Bridge
Sound – Andrew Franks
Movement – Ayse Tashkiran