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The Spanish Tragedy

The story concerns Hieronimo, Knight Marshall of Spain, who seeks bloody revenge when the law fails to bring him justice after the murder of his son, Horatio. It is a story that attempts to explain that revenge is not necessarily the correct course to take. When one person gets revenge on another, someone else will then seek revenge on the revenges! At what point should revenge stop and forgiveness begin?

Lasting three (very long) hours this play is disappointing. There is plenty of blood and the usual treachery and tricks, but sadly it lacks the wit which helps to carry such tragedies. Instead we are left with all the constant suffering and shouting which goes on and on and on. The first hour drags along with not much happening, in fact the play only begins to come alive after the murder of Hieronimo's son. At this point the play picks up and gathers momentum. But after the interval it sinks into morbid and dull repetitiveness. There are a few diversions that add a little humour, but sadly these are few and far between.

The acting is, as usual, of the highest quality from the RSC. Peter Wight puts in a fine performance playing the avenging Hieronimo and Robert Glenister is equally convincing as Lorenzo, one of the murderers of Horatio.

NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD said the play was a "riveting production". JEREMY KINGSTON of THE TIMES " also likes it, saying there is much excitement in the play and some great writing. KATE STRATTON of TIME OUT says, "Thomas Kyd's 400-year-old revenge drama still has the power to thrill."

Although I did not care much for this play, the audience seemed to love it and gave a rapturous applause at the end, and with favourable reviews from the popular press, it looks like I'm by myself on this one!

(Darren Dalglish)

Originally published on

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