The show combines a UK ensemble with six of Mexico’s finest, a predominantly British creative team with the text of a Mexican playwright – all under the direction of Roxana Silbert.
The play has an inherent danger of becoming something like a glorified history lesson; but here it turns into something of a master class in both storytelling and the applicability of Shakespeare’s style (it is inspired by his Histories). Luis Mario Moncada’s script, and Gary Owen’s translation, combine to create a superb text with plenty of meat for the cast.
Jorge Ballina’s set, which resembles a large sheets of papyrus, forms a joyful canvas for Chahine Yavroyan’s dynamic lighting to paint – enabling snappy scene changes with no lulls in action.
Colourful costumes, featuring traditional dress and body paint also provide a helpful reminder of who’s who – gratefully received, as character names are not the easiest to follow.
Moncada’s text aptly showcases a wonderfully vulgar Tezozomoc (John Stahl), against whom Susie Trayling’s forceful Tecpa clashes in one of most memorable exchanges. Her betrothed, Ixtloxochitl allows Alex Waldmann another opportunity to establish himself as one of the finest actors in the RSC roster.
In the year of the World Shakespeare Festival, it is lovely to see the Bard’s legacy so well-served, collaborations like these being unthinkable in most years. The only twinge of disappointment is the unlikelihood of a future life for this must-see production.
- by Daniel Whitley