Tag Archives: Paul McEwan

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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