"Scenes From An Execution"
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.
Written by Howard Barker.
Directed by Richard Minkley.
The plot revolves around Galactia, a female artist and her struggles against the Venetian city-state in the aftermath of the 15th century Battle of Lepanto. Although the city commissions the painting to celebrate the victory over the Turks, the artist's vision differs dramatically from that of the Doge, Urgentino, and the Catholic Church.
There are several sub messages sent out in the play; one of the main ones being Galactia's promiscuousness, which, if this had been a man, would have been different. As Galactia is a woman, and a strong woman at that, she is scorned and looked down upon for her confidence and her sexual freedom.
There's also a case of society building her up to pedestal level and then knocking her down. When she has been brought to her lowest ebb and placing her in jail, she is then given almost celebrity status and is asked to adorn the tables of the important folk.
A very clever play with some long and complicated passages of script which was handled fluently and naturally by Tamzin Grayson who played Galactia with great feeling and understanding.
Christopher Collins played Galactia's secret lover, bringing the role of Carpeta a double edged value. Not wanting to reveal his love affair with Galactia for fear of his wife finding out, he showed solidarity for Galactia,while his job as an artist to rival his lover coming out on top when he is commissioned over her to create the painting for the city. A passionate performance from Chris.
Richard Minkley stepped into the role of Urgentino after the original actor had to pull out at the last minute, and while reading the script from the page, his performance was very good and convincing. It must be difficult to "perform" a piece if you're sight reading the script. A brave move for the director of the piece, but the show must go on, and it did, so applause due for stepping in to the breach Mr Minkley.
Gemma Barritt, Damian Frendo and David Phillips-Peters all took dual roles and each separate character being distinguishable from their other role, which doesn't always work out when taking more than one part. Solid performances from all involved.
I've always said that the Lace Market is the place to go for the lesser performed plays and this play upholds this statement. A really enjoyable and not too long play, coming in at just under two hours with break. It holds your attention well with the storyline and, with the main character being a strong woman who stands up for what she wants, in all aspects of her life, is refreshing.
The lighting for the piece was excellent and moody at times. Designed by Emma Pegg, programmed by Charlie Bailey and operated by Lucy Wakefield it added atmosphere for the piece.
Appropriate props and wardrobe made up for a lack of scenery, but scenery was not that important due to the strength of the storyline, You didn't need the settings to be spelt out to you and in your face.
A fascinating play with some fruity and clever lines highlighting the power a woman can command over her rivals and men, but not always over society who see her, and her work, as an insult and possibly a threat. it also shows how society can build you up to knock you down when it feels right for them to do so.
"Scenes From An Execution" is on at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 31 October 2015.