Day of the Dead: A Hammy Thespian Acts out a Bloody Revenge on His Critics

By Portillo, Michael | New Statesman (1996), May 30, 2005 | Go to article overview

Day of the Dead: A Hammy Thespian Acts out a Bloody Revenge on His Critics


Portillo, Michael, New Statesman (1996)


Theatre of Blood

National Theatre, London SE1

"The editor cut my best bloody line." How I feel for George Maxwell, the fictional Daily Telegraph theatre critic played by Paul Bentall. Oozing self-importance and paranoia in equal measure, he has arrived at an abandoned London theatre, summoned by a mysterious invitation. As he obsesses about the gem excised from his prose by a typically philistine editor, he has no way of knowing that he is moments away from meeting a horrific death. Edward Lionheart (Jim Broadbent) is the old-style thespian--OK, full-blown ham--who, after bearing the slings and arrows of outrageous reviews, leaps into the Thames from a post-performance luvvies' party. But as Maxwell pays with his life for all those sneering notices, he sees the impossible: Lionheart hale and hearty. Through the blood that chokes him, he gasps that he thought him dead. "No. I am well. It is you who are dead. Another critical miscalculation!"

Lee Simpson's script for this production of Theatre of Blood, a collaboration between the Improbable company and the National Theatre, draws heavily on the best-loved lines of the MGM film made in 1973 (with Vincent Price as Lionheart). The play's action is confined to the decaying theatre, to which the despised tragedian has invited his detractors so that each of them may shuffle off this mortal coil in a suitably Shakespearean manner.

Maxwell finds himself playing a real-death Caesar to Lionheart's Brutus. The prissy and pretentious Sally Patterson from the Guardian (Hayley Carmichael) will make an improbable Hector falling victim to the Myrmidons, and the dipsomaniac critic from the Daily Mail meets Clarence's demise face down in a barrel of malmsey. And so on.

The play has great comic moments. What would happen if the Jew of Venice decided to risk losing his lands and life for the joy of removing a pound of Christian flesh from Antonio's breast? The horror is excellent, too. Blood spurts by the pint. Bodies are torn apart in graphic detail, and with spine-chilling sound effects. The illusionist Paul Kieve produces magical tricks under the overall direction of Phelim McDermott.

The problem with the play is the problem with the genre. There is only one gag as, Agatha Christie-like, the green bottles on the wall fall one by one until they are all gone. (Well, maybe not, but that would be telling.) Each murder is brilliantly brought off. Yet the play is by its nature repetitive and, in view of that, too long.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Still, it makes for a good evening of comedy and horror. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Day of the Dead: A Hammy Thespian Acts out a Bloody Revenge on His Critics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.