Entertainment » Theatre

Revenger's Tragedy

by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Aug 17, 2016
Revenger's Tragedy

Power, corruption, lies, revenge. No, I'm not talking about the 2016 Presidential Campaign, but rather Head Trick Theatre's impressive production of "The Revenger's Tragedy," a Jacobean era (post-Elizabeth, pre-Caroline) drama written by English poet, playwright and Shakespearean contemporary, Thomas Middleton.

Effectively directed by Rebecca Maxfield, this outdoor production creates an ominous aura immediately upon arrival with haunting albeit beautiful live music, courtesy of violinist Armand Aromin. With only forest trees in the background, the masked cast appears clad in formal wear, singing "Cuckoo's Nest" (a Renaissance fair staple) followed by a circle dance. The sentiment of this seemingly joyous overture, however, is short-lived.

Enter Vindice (Christine Pavao), a "revenger," still mourning the death of his fiancée nine years prior, whom the Duke (Mark Carter) poisoned after she refused his advances. His father's recent death, for which the Duke is again responsible, has Vindice hell-bent on revenge.

With the help of his brother, Hippolito (Dan McDonough), a disguised Vindice manages to gain entry to the Duke's court, where his first order of service is to fetch a mate for the Duke's son, Lussurioso (Aisha Sho). It just so happens the girl in mind is his sister, Castiza (Elizabeth Souin), which leads Vindice to his own home, using money and jewelry to lure her and his mother, Gratiana (Susan Buttrick).

Vindice is soon able to exact his revenge on the Duke, but not without consequence, with the interference of the Duchess (Robbi Scruggs) and her vengeance-seeking sons, Ambitioso (Hannah Heckman-McKenna), Supervacuo (Ashley Moore), and her lover, Spurio (Derick Locus), the Duke's bastard son.

Confused? You're not alone. It's a tough story to follow, but don't get discouraged. The language is as intricate as Shakespeare (and the body count as plentiful, if not more so), which makes the acting efforts of the cast all the more admirable and commendable.

Pavao delivers a masterful, poised performance as Vindice, a mostly likable, principled individual whose determination goes awry, and McDonough is equally stoic and composed as Hippolito. Supporting players worthy of special mention include Sho as the fierce, fervent Lussurioso, Heckman-McKenna as ornery Ambitioso, Buttrick as the easily influenced Gratiana, and Locus as the venomous Spurio.

Middleton's work isn't staged often, so don't miss this unique opportunity to experience "The Revenger's Tragedy," an especially welcome addition (or alternative) to outdoor summer theater fare.

"The Revenger's Tragedy" runs through August 21 at Narragansett Boat Club, 2 River Road in Providence. For tickets or information, visit https://www.facebook.com/HeadTrickTheatre/

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.


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