The theatre in Marlow’s time, or Shakespeare’s for that matter, was often blood-thirsty, gruelling and macabre. The plotting and scheming within Edward II’s court was no less ruthless. Writer Anthony Weigh has remastered Marlow’s play Edward II, and it is currently running at the Malthouse Theatre. Weigh’s production has synthesised all the “best bits” of the intrigue, outrage and suspense surrounding the rise and fall of Edward II.
The dialogue and set design has been modernised, and lighting and sound have been cleverly used to indicate changes in time and location. Some of the staging I couldn’t quite understand, such the tables of rocks. However, overall I found myself completely swept up in the events onstage and at one point I was actually holding my breath.
Johnny Carr played Ned (Edward II), the reluctant king who would rather stay home in bed with Piers, played by Paul Ashcroft. Marco Chiappi was brilliant in his role as Mortimer, the kingmaker, royal adviser and all-round devious manipulator of the court. He is the character that we love to hate. Belinda McClory played Sib, Edward’s wife and powerless queen. Julian Mineo played The Boy, Edward II’s successor. The direction of the characters as a group brought a lot of light and shade to the plot. At first Sib is conniving and powerful but she becomes a quivering mess, not able to control The Boy when he comes to power. Piers is at first powerless and then abuses his new found privilege as the king’s real partner. In between all of this, Mortimer is building and destroying, building and destroying. Ah, it’s good stuff!
Edward II comes with warnings about nudity, drug use and explicit sex scenes. It is recommended for over 18s and I would agree that the content is not suitable for a young audience. It lasts approximately 100 minutes without an interval. The Malthouse Theatre has a bar and some pretty good looking food.
Katie Marsh is now celebrating her one year anniversary in Melbourne after having moved from sunny Perth. Overwhelmed by the choice of things to do in Melbourne, she often wonders why it took so long to move here.