The Macedonian Tragedy

“There’s nothing outlandishly wrong with this play. Lines are delivered, cues are met, and the story is told.” But there’s nothing outlandishly right with it either, write CHLOE COLEMAN and LEYLA HAMID.

chloe coleman Gareth Mattey Georgia Ware leyla hamid Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez Susannah Thraves the macedonian tragedy

Fitzpatrick Hall, 7.30pm, Tue 13th – Sat 17th Nov, £5

Dir. Susannah Thraves, Gareth Mattey 

“Blood, fire, sex, rhetoric and revenge.” This is what camdram promised, and the promise was misleading: this was not a night of explosive drama.

The play is unequivocally ambitious, with a rich combination of politics, power-hungry monarchs and the violent deaths this genre does best. At times in this production, however, tragedy threatened to stray into the realm of comedy. During one murder scene, during which the duel descended into little more than a kerfuffle, the girl in front of us who could barely stifle her laughter wasn’t the only one who saw the funny side. Not really what you want from a tragedy…

There’s nothing outlandishly wrong with this play. Lines are delivered, cues are met, and the story is told. But it lacks passion; in some instances, it seems as though the actors are speaking the words without realising the meaning behind them. As a result, we were neither moved nor gripped by what should be a provocative delineation of tragic events simply because it felt as though the actors weren’t either.

Nevertheless, the play was pushed forward by some convincing and engaging performances by various individuals. As deranged jilted Queen Olympius, Rebecca Benion injected some energy into the production, and successfully shook up the audience. Likewise Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez as Alexander was memorable and authoritative, forced us to sympathise with the pains of being unjustly disinherited by his ignoble royal father.

Several female actresses fulfilled the roles of male characters – an interesting inversion of the dramatic origins of tragic theatre, where only male actors could perform (sorry girls). Though this took a while for us to adjust to, – perhaps because of the overly minimalistic costumes – it wasn’t ineffective. Amongst these smaller roles, Georgia Ware as Parmenion particularly stood out. Completely at ease on the stage,  her continued commitment to her character was impressive.

Some of the dramatic touches misfired. The use of torches to illuminate people’s faces during moments of high tension failed to captivate, instead reminding us of the spooky stories told at childhood sleepovers – not exactly the sort of response such an unsettling plot hopes to effect. But the acting itself showed promise, with most of the slight wobbles probably down to “opening night syndrome”. Harkening back to the golden age of tragedy in which insanity, paranoia, jealousy and murder are rife, The Macedonian Tragedy has the potential to make an impact – it just needs a little fire.