William Shakespeare’s narrative poem
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.