Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Medieval Play

Kenneth Lonergan's Medieval Play, had to have been produced under threat of thumbscrews. Sir Ralph (Josh Hamilton) and Sir Alfred (Tate Donovan) are pillagers of the lowest order -- though they're wise enough to think through the sociopolitical changes the current Hundred Years' War (it's 1376) will bring about: anything to get a laugh, right? Things change, however, when Sir Ralph, motivated by a sudden sense of morality, refuses to rape an abbey full of nuns, and instead contracts his company to Cardinal Robert of Geneva. Unfortunately for him, the church is just as bloody, and his attempts to leave it behind to do real good -- let alone to define it -- are constantly undone by his baser instincts and his poorer timing. This is pretty much what undoes the show, too: Lonergan's self-indulgent direction has created an atmosphere in which there isn't a single joke that doesn't go on at least fifty percent too long (the bland fight sequences, especially between Niccolo and Ralph; a sequence detailing the importance of "modern etiquette"), to say nothing of all the material that's been left in far beyond its expiration date (the whoring and bullying done by some French cardinals, the idol-worship directed at Catherine of Sienna).

[Read full review here]

No comments: