The Rape of Lucrece Williamm Shakespeare 1594
The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end; whereof
this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety.
The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth
of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I
have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in
all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty would
show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship,
to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with all happiness.
Performed by Gerard Logan
Gerard Logan won The Stage’s Best Solo Performer Award at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival for this performance, and the actor is touring it internationally. Given this credential, and the magnificence of the bard’s language in Lucrece, you might legitimately hope for an enthralling and captivating sixty-five minutes’ worth of poetic theatre.
The start was shaky and not compelling. A certain reediness in the declaimer’s voice, and an unwelcome feel to the verse-speaking style that felt mannered and dated left you wondering if the high-flown language and involved poetic flights would be successfully carried through the full session.
Added to this is the fact that instances of less happy and more obscure poetic tropes occur early in the piece. Blessedly, both poet and interpreter quickly found their stride as the obsessed Tarquin broached the chamber of the saintly beauty, and then time stood still.
Aided by a well-judged restraint in the use of costume, props, lighting and sound, our actor gave a virtuoso performance. Clear diction and thoughtful phrasing gave access to both the most fleet and the most tortuous of Shakespearian lines. Interpretation of the characters was appropriate and intelligently restrained.
A sadly sparse audience gave the performance a deservedly warm acclamation.
This production has been a marvellous project, seeking to do justice to a remarkable work dripping poetic brilliance, with Shakespeare exploiting the genre to express himself more elaborately than drama allows. Its high tone does not preclude many condensed, gnomic, tightly-turned verses in this formally disciplined poem that are sheer delights. One came away with a simple feeling of satisfaction not always instilled by Buxton’s other offerings.
John M Carter