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A CurtainUp London Review
In the main play, in modern dress, Beatrice-Joanna (Jessica Raine) lures the severely psoriatic, inflamed and peeling, faced De Flores (Daniel Cerqueira) to kill her fiancé Alonzo (Duncan Wisbey) so that she might marry the man she has fallen for, Alsemero (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith). De Flores obliges drowning Alonzo by holding his head in a bowl of red punch. But that is where things go pear shaped as De Flores, already obsessed with Joanna, insists on a sexual payment rather than money and sweet faced Joanna develops a dark and insatiable passion for the hired murderer. The maid Diaphanta (Charlotte Lucas) is employed first to demonstrate to Joanna, so she may imitate them, the effects of a virgin detecting potion on a true virgin and secondly to bed a blindfolded Alsemero. With custard, red jelly and trifle on hand the gory effects are reproduced with red food.
In the sub plot Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Antonio disguises as one with cerebral palsy in a wheel chair in order to attempt to seduce the lunatic asylum’s superintendent Alibius’ (Duncan Wisbey) wife Isabella (Charlotte Lucas). Isabella’s resistance of the three seducers contrasts with Beatrice-Joanna’s fall into ignominy. Because of the set being the same and several of the roles doubled up I would advise anyone not familiar with the plot of The Changeling to research this before seeing this production.
There were moments in this unconventional production that are thrilling: Maxine Doyle’s choreographed wedding dance, not just the dance but the ceremony. . .the speeches and routine all synchronised, arm jabbing, and cheesy grins all round to a selection of pop music. Excellent too are the performances too from Jessica Raine as off the rails formerly conventional and demure Beatrice-Joanna and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as her sincere but tricked husband covered in jelly are convincing and Daniel Cerqueira conveyed some sympathy rather than evil and revulsion. It may not be a conventional rendering of The Changeling but it is memorable!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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