The Massacre at Paris

Wed 12th – Sat 15th February 2014


Kavana Ramaswamy

at 02:13 on 13th Feb 2014



Compared to the brilliant performances one usually expects (and gets) at ADC, the Massacre at Paris put up by the Marlowe Society tonight was slightly disappointing. Minimally, the adaptation of the play could be lauded for being succinct. However, that could not salvage the apparent lack of involvement in most of the actors and the largely bland rendering of the lines in the play.

The play started out in a more promising manner - a radio announcement of the events leading up to the play and a soliloquy by the Duke of Guise announcing his gruesome plans for France. The opening scene does set a very grim stage for the rest of the scenes which, unfortunately, could not be maintained throughout the show. While Ruth O’Connell Brown (playing the part of the Duke of Guise) is an able actress and must be commended for being quite capable of getting into character, her passion was not shared by the rest of the team. Brown, however, had a perpetual look of scorn on her face that lent a certain credulity to the character’s villainy and managed to sustain the anger in her acting. While many of the other actors in this play seemed to be struggling to reconcile the archaic language of the dialogues with the emotion of their contexts, Brown did not appear to have any such issues. Her solitary presence in the opening scene was well-chosen.

The play did have its moments, however. The actual scene of the massacre of the Protestants of Paris was well executed. The noise added a much-required sense of trepidation to the audience. Thereafter, barring some good scenes sprinkled in between, the play was rather dull. The narrator and the Duke were the only people holding it together until the closing scene. To make matters worse, Brown started struggling with a hoarse voice towards the second half. Nonetheless, she did manage to pull off losing her voice mid-performance exceptionally well and continued to remain audible and clear through the entire play. The final scene was also relatively decent.

While the grim backdrop of the play renders it automatically unpalatable for those looking for lighter entertainment, this production is probably more suited for seasoned Marlowe fans as opposed to uninitiated crowds.


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