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The Spanish Tragedie

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Violence and the god-like power of man over man, converge on Hieronimo and his descent to madness.

What a wonderful performance last night! The concentration of all the cast was spot on, there was no hesitation or hint of nerves and the whole thing was very professional indeed, much better than some of the other "semi-professional" groups I have seen around Oxford. The director and cast members did a great job and really captured the diversity and unpredictability of mental illness in a really creative and effective way. Brilliant job!

Staging open air theatre must pose many potential difficulties - sound, delivery of lines, lighting, set-up etc but it all went smoothly despite the low flying helicopter that evening (trying to sneak in without paying?!!).

Must admit I'm jealous though - the chap who played Bel-Imperia - what fantastic legs!!! Wow!! Not sure if it was scripted for that part to be played by a bloke or creative directing but it certainly worked.

A fine play, wonderfully entertaining and professionally performed by an extremely able and multi-talented group. Encore!

Rena (DI User), 05/06/09

The title certainly doesn't lie! It's set in Spain and as only one of the actors (the very regal Dave Coghill) escapes death, the title certainly prepares one for what ensues.

There are several instances of cross-casting within the ensemble cast and whilst this may be a little confusing for the audience initially this group of skilled actors certainly pull it off. Rob Hoare Nairne (Bel-Imperia), while clearly not female, has mastered some wonderful feminine mannerisms, and one can certainly understand the attraction felt for this femme fatale by three of the other characters: Dead Andrea (the superb Rosie Frascona, who opens and closes the show supported by the Fates), Balthazar (Emile Halpin, who brought us some wonderful comic moments, much needed in such a dark play), and young Horatio (Alex Khosla, who is wonderful to watch for so many reasons, not just his bare torso).

Over Horatio’s bloody corpse his parents, Hieronimo (the booming Kate Lewin) and Isabella (the delicately nuanced Naomi Webb) brought a large proportion of the audience to tears with their laments. Then the aforementioned Fates spend the rest of the play tormenting the moral and just Hieronimo until he is forced to take matters into his own hands by plotting the vengeful murders of Balthazar and Lorenzo (James Corrigan, a joy to watch: has mastered brooding intensity).

Special mention must also go to Hannah Roberts who managed to make each of her (many) characters so distinct, and to Harriet Tolkien: the light touch of her box-based soliloquy was a welcome relief in the midst of Hieronimo’s series of mental crises. The show was not without its problems, but many of these appeared to be a case of first night issues which will be ironed out. Director Will Maynard has achieved great things with this very ambitious not-just-another garden show.

KLew (DI User), 03/06/09

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