So I wrote many things about Henley Street Theatre Company’s “The Spanish Tragedy” in my review. Among them are some comments that echo Mary’s: I had a great deal of trouble with the costumes – I may have been more distracted by them than any other production I can remember. I also thought the use of fake blood at the end was a problematic choice. It was certainly a dramatic moment but I ended up feeling manipulated. My full review should appear in Style soon – maybe as early as this week – and you’ll get the full story then.
But until then, here are some things that didn’t end up in the review:
The set. I ended up feeling a bit mixed about the set. Like many aspects of the production, I think the ambition exceeded the execution. The second level with the tower room where Bel-Imperia is locked was pretty impressive. But the little chambers under the second level were odd and the façade of the whole thing, while it didn’t look as bad as cardboard building blocks, also didn’t quite convey “brick” convincingly.
I liked Anthony Santiago as Balthazar, though not quite as much as I liked him in “Spinning into Butter.” I didn’t really get a strong impression of Brad Tuggle as Horatio. I like the chemistry between him and Frank Creasy’s Hieronimo in their brief moments together, but I would echo Mary again and say I wasn’t quite feeling the fire between him and Kerry McGee’s Bel-Imperia.
I enjoyed Dean Knight as Lorenzo’s page a lot. I wish he was given more to do and more stage time in which to do it.
Sorry to say but the entire Portuguese court kind of left me flat. The whole subplot involving political infighting at the Portuguese court was a time-waster in my opinion, adding far too little to the show for the time and focus it demanded. Not to be mean about it but that was how I felt.
I touch on this in the review, but I think the text of the play is problematic. Until the trial of Pedringano, there is a deathly lack of humor or distraction from the grim main events. There were some moments of lightness after that, but the whole piece is a pretty grim affair. Hamlet’s no party either but I think I laughed at least four times as often the last time I saw that. Also, whereas Shakespeare has such moving and soaring poetry, I didn’t think there was much inspiration to be found in Kyd’s rhymes. There was a fairly large proportion of “moon/June” kind of poetry (or at least “tale / nightingale” which is really just about as bad).
The one soliloquy that approached poignancy was Hieronimo’s “What good is a son?” speech. It was a good speech but almost a little too bittersweet. I also didn’t get at all why Hieronimo first discovers his son, is distraught, then apparently refuses to accept that it’s his son, and then “re-discovers” him and falls again into pain and rage. Why go through that circle? It was confusing to me.
Though I’ve written a fair amount of negative stuff above, I did like many things about the production. But you’ll read about those in my review, when it comes out and if you are inclined to pick up a copy. In the meantime, I'm open to opinions both contradictory and complementary...