Marlowe knew the Rose well, though he would have been as surprised as
anyone to see the actors' breath hang in the chilly Easter air, the
audience wrapped in blue woollen blankets.
performed by the Children of the Chapel Royal, and written in
collaboration with Thomas Nashe, this early Marlowe tells a familiar
tale – the love affair between Libyan Queen and Trojan Hero.
on the Hill brought us a traditional take on this neglected text –
spoken with exemplary clarity, using the resonance of the vast
excavation, even if the accents were a little posh – more
Kensington than Carthage.
setting was inevitably simple, with countless candles replacing the
red neon ropelights, and a cats' cradle of cords above the cramped
arena. The shallow lake was effectively used, with one scene played
out on the farther shore.
noteworthy performances from a young cast, directed with pace and
precision by Alex Pearson and Jeremy Smith. Rhiannon Sommers was a
very watchable Dido, sympathetically drawn by Marlowe, transformed
by Cupid's dart from proud Queen to infatuated teenager. Her
increasingly desperate farewells to Aeneas – flirtatious, frantic,
fearful – were excellently handled, as was her death, falling
backwards into the silken fire.
sister Anna, thwarted in her secret love for Edward Walters' Iarbas,
was passionately played by Julia Taylor. Natasha Percival was the
Puckish Cupid, and there was an impressive double from Samantha
Spurgin as the aged Nurse and the voluptuous Venus – the opening
scenes show how the Gods use mortals for their sport.
Burgess was a confident Aeneas, relating the "woeful tale"
of the fall of Troy and wrestling with his conscience, torn between
Libya and Italy. His faithful Achates – doubling Jupiter in the
opening – was Carsten Garbode.
welcome chance to see this rare Marlowe in this uniquely evocative