Lucrece

William Shakespeare’s narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece tells the story of Lucrece, a noblewoman in ancient Rome whose rape at the hands of her husband’s friend, Tarquin, ultimately leads to the downfall of the ancient Roman monarchy and the start of the Roman Republic. The poem was written in 1594 but its themes of the devastation of sexual assault, the objectification of women and the dangers of unrestrained desire are still relevant today.

The Shakespeare Edit let the power of Shakespeare’s words speak directly to the audience.

In this new adaptation, The Shakespeare Edit let the power of Shakespeare’s words speak directly to the audience in a pared down production that doesn’t lecture or overstate its message. Performed by only three actors the production does an admirable job of distinguishing between different characters and getting the epic nature of the original poem across.

As the weak-willed Tarquin, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd is both pitiful and imposing in equal measure and his pathetic grunting during the (thankfully not too graphic) rape itself perfectly illustrates the cowardice of his actions. It’s a little jarring seeing him later on as Lucrece’s loving husband Collatine but Mullan manages to make his portrayal of him specific enough that it’s not too distracting.

Whoopie Van Raam plays Lucrece and after being the silent object of lust in Tarquin’s ‘portion’ of the poem, gets to show her strength and courage as Lucrece grapples with the shame and trauma of what happened, demanding revenge from her husband, father and us, the audience. Isabella Marshall is billed as Chorus, taking on multiple roles as the narrator and the people around Lucrece. She easily conveys the shifting moods of the piece and her near-keening lament after Lucrece’s assault was especially affecting.

As the story of a woman who chooses to risk everything and speak up and name names, Lucrece feels very timely in 2019. This is a simple and beautiful production of that story and its well worth revisiting one of Shakespeare’s earliest works. They call them classics for a reason.

Reviews by Ashleigh Torva

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The Blurb

Lucrece is raped by Tarquin, the King's son. She chooses to tell her story and demand justice and revenge rather than remain silent. Her courage leads to the overthrow of the monarchy and the founding of the Roman republic. Following a critically acclaimed co-production with the National Centre for the Performing Arts Mumbai, The Shakespeare Edit brings its thrilling adaptation of Shakespeare's epic poem to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 'A hard-hitting tale of courage we all need to see' (in.BookMyShow.com). 'I sat stunned and somehow hopeful' (Mumbai Mirror). 'A triumph' (Mumbai Notebook).

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