The Duchess of Padua

This event has now finished. Until May 15 2010

Time Out says  

Posted: Tue Apr 27 2010

Rafe Beckley's abridged production of Oscar Wilde 1883's blank-verse tragedy appears to represent the first time the play has been staged in the UK in over a century, so if you're a fan of the great Dublin wit you won't want to miss it. Not that it's particularly witty or Wildean: this tale of Renaissance realpolitik, revenge and big love is about as far removed from the sophisticated social ironies of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' as you can get.

The dramatist affects the high Jacobean manner but the results are more cold pastiche than hot homage. Shakespearean archetypes stand behind the action - especially Lady Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet - but the smoothness of the verse means Wilde's characters never burn with the knotty tormented passion of their dramatic forebears. Basically, it's Victorian melodrama.

Not that Beckley's staging is without its compensations, not least Alexis Forte's atmospheric design and Peter Gerald's hilarious turn as the Duke of Padua, a pantomime villain who glories in being hated by the ordinary folk and comes over all Marie Antoinette when the people complain that they have to drink stagnant water, exclaiming, 'They should drink wine!' It's just a pity he gets killed off before the interval.

Pentameters Theatre details

Pentameters Theatre, Three Horseshoes, 28 Heath St, NW3 6TE

Pentameters Theatre

Leonie Scott-Matthews has been the driving force behind Hampstead's Pentameters Theatre since 1968. She still proudly heads up the 60-seat pub...

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