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Cardenio

SWAN THEATRE: 'Cardenio', in the revamped and restored Swan space at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon, is billed as “Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Play’ Re-Imagined”.
Cardenio
Cardenio, in the revamped and restored Swan space at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon, is billed as “Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Play’ Re-Imagined”. It could quite as easily be called “Shakespeare’s Plots Re-Assembled”: there are moments from Measure for Measure, episodes from As You Like It and even a cameo from King Lear. Cardenio is classic renaissance revenge tragedy and none the worse for that: nobles betray their lower ranked friends over lovers and, after a liberal sprinkling of rapes and sham marriages, the only question is whether the play will end with a pile of corpses or lessons learned and rueful reconciliations all round. I quite like the notion of ‘re-imagining’ something: it suggests that you get to leave out the dross, concentrate on the good stuff and even venture a few improvements of your own. I doubt there are many people who wouldn’t fancy the English summer re-imagined without wasps and motorway services. The creative freedom afforded from working without a canonical text has been exploited to the full by director Gregory Doran and an excellent cast: together they have conjured up a hugely enjoyable drama rooted firmly in the heat and intrigue of Cervantes’ Andalusia, right down to the flamenco curtain call. The new theatres in Stratford have allowed the RSC to expand and there are a number of talented actors in the company for the first time. Oliver Rix takes the play’s eponymous hero from callow Romeo to tortured Hamlet while Lucy Briggs-Owen is anything but a damsel in distress as the much lusted after Luscinda. Cardenio may not be Shakespeare as such but whatever it is, it works. Cardenio (RSC, Stratford) Venue: Swan Theatre Where: Stratford-Upon-Avon

David Trennery

Monday 6 June, 2011

About the author

David Trennery is a free-lance writer.