Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

06 October 2007

Revengers Travesty

Alex Cox's updated version of Cyril Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy (or is it Thomas Middleton's?) is a big huge mess. It stands on the shoulders of other adaptations of English Renaissance plays, of course. Derek Jarman's Edward II (1991) comes to mind, as well as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996), Julie Taymor's Titus (1999), and Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (2000), but Revengers Tragedy (the definite article and the apostrophe are both jettisoned for the new title) isn't as good as any of its predecessors.

Christopher Eccleston is fine as the aggrieved Vindici, but Derek Jacobi's Duke is imagined as an early modern Karl Lagerfeld with dark purple lipstick. It's a bizarre film that doesn't seem to be about much of anything, and lacks depth of any kind. There are strange (and misplaced) references to Princess Diana, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II and the bombing of Hiroshima. It's a near-useless pastiche without focus or a clear narrative, and a moral landscape that defies sense altogether. Skip it absolutely.

I should also mention that last night we (most of the MAs) all went to see Florida State's production of Lanford Wilson's A Sense of Place. I don't want to say anything about the production itself, because the production doesn't matter at all. The play should never have been chosen to open this or anyone's season. It is a truly useless play with nothing to recommend it. Why it is opening our season, and utilizing the time of some of our best designers is completely beyond me.