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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Two Reviews of Cox's Revenger's Tragedy
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0317  Wednesday, 19 February 2003

From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Feb 2003 16:19:07 -0500
Subject:        Two Reviews of Cox's Revenger's Tragedy

Revengers Tragedy
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Friday February 14, 2003

Alex Cox, working from Frank Cottrell Boyce's adaptation, has come up
with a very lively and watchable version of Thomas Middleton's original
1607 play - a Jacobean horror comic, gashed and daubed with the kind of
crudity and uncompromising bad taste that, if nothing else, is
thoroughly in keeping with the original. I had been fearing a terrible
mess of Jarman-ism and Greenaway-ism, and to be honest there's a touch
of both, but it's kept under control and there's a fairly tight focus on
telling the story, perhaps partly because the play isn't that well
known.

Like My Kingdom, Don Boyd's updating of Lear, this is set in gangland
Liverpool, though without the sentimental gangsterism of that movie.
Christopher Eccleston is Vindici, the malevolent outsider who returns to
avenge the poisoning of his bride by the lascivious Duke, played with
pale makeup and grotesque rosebud lips by Derek Jacobi. To this end, he
offers his service to the Duke's scheming son Lussurioso, played very
nicely by Eddie Izzard, upstaging everyone with his sly humour and easy,
relaxed command of the language. Izzard has a definite screen presence;
one day the right script and director are going to make him a real movie
star. The film itself is an honourable experiment, refreshingly without
the piety of Shakespeare adaptations.

Philip French
Sunday February 16, 2003
The Observer

In refusing to call the film The Revenger's Tragedy, the director, Alex
Cox, has apparently followed the 1607 text. Would that the rest of his
film had been so fastidious. As Robert Louis Stevenson might have said
had he been captain of the Starship Enterprise, it is better to boldly
go than to arrive, and the effort that has gone into getting Cox's
ambitious picture into production hasn't led to anything coherent or
revealing up there on the screen.

A shaven-headed, darting-eyed Christopher Eccleston has a commanding
presence as Vindici, the malcontent out to revenge the murder of his
fiancee by the lecherous Duke (Derek Jacobi). But much of the acting is
below par and the complex intrigue makes little sense in the realistic
context of a decaying, once grand Liverpool. My Kingdom, Don Boyd's
recent transposition of King Lear to Merseyside, was far more
successful, but Boyd was adapting a very familiar play and had the good
sense to re-work the story and to jettison most of the verse.

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