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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

ETB Spanish Tragedy a metered mess

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With a total run time of nearly two hours and 15 minutes, ETB’s production of The Spanish Tragedy explored dark themes such as suicide, incest, murder and incurable revenge.

The show followed several members of the Spanish and Portuguese courts. Beginning with the murder of a prominent Spaniard’s son, more and more characters lost their lives.

Whether their lives were lost to a vengeance seeking father, or a murderer desperately trying to cover their tracks, it was more dangerous to get attached to a character in this show than in Game of Thrones.

Admittedly, the 9th week woes hit this reviewer hard, so the show’s constant twists, turns, and seemingly endless stream of new characters that would desperately confuse even the most focused of viewers, left me unsure as to each person’s identity and how the storyline fit together.

A word of advice to anyone thinking about seeing the show, Wikipedia the plot before going to show; it will make your viewing much more enjoyable.

Written by Thomas Kyd in the sixteenth century, the play was written entirely in meter.

Overall, the actors did well with the complex dialogue and rhythm, although distinct moments of disjunction in the meter disrupted the show’s pacing. A show of constant dialogue, there was never a moment for the audience to catch their breath. Nicely paralleling the intense nature of the show, the never-ending speech tired this reviewer out.

Amazingly, one of the main characters in the show, played by Emily Shack, who portrayed the smitten Bel-Imperia, did a masterful job of exploring her character’s range of emotions and using the complex dialogue to her advantage. Other standouts included the father-son duo of Matthew Pruyne and Taylor Gee. Both effectively overcame the obstacle of speaking in a meter.

While the actors generally used the meter to their advantage and maneuvered the show’s complicated plot, the show lacked a sense of time and place. Nothing, other than conversations, signified the show’s setting on the Spanish peninsula. With costumes ranging from an eighties suit to a forties candy shop owner bow tie, nothing placed the show in its proper time period. Unfortunately, this took away attention from the show’s story as the audience struggled to identify the setting.

The costumes, however, were exquisitely used for this reviewer’s favorite scene in the show. Without giving away too much of the intrigue, several of the surviving main characters put on a show for the respective kings of Spain and Portugal. A tinge of humor and deception quickly captured the viewer’s complete attention.

While scenes such as this theatrical performance within a performance (how Inception of Thomas Kyd), the blocking appeared forced. Perhaps due to the enormity and age of the show, the actors seemed to lack sincerity in many of their movements. This was a huge production, and the cast did well in capturing its overall essence and messages.

Now to answer the question every good review must. Should you go see the show? Unfortunately, I cannot give a firm answer. There are moments in the piece worth seeing the whole show over, but in all honestly, the show did not wow this reviewer.

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