As in 2011 so in 2012, two Middletons are exciting London, though perhaps not on the scale of Kate and Pippa last year. Just a little East of Immersion Theatre's The Revenger's Tragedy in Islington, another The Revenger's Tragedy is presented at Hoxton Hall (until 10 November), this time by Independent Productions and Suba Das. Not a bad time for fans of Jacobean tragedy. Transforming the old Victorian Music Hall into a dismal palace and then an eerie, shadowy, bleakly Protestant church, with the cross above and a coffin front and centre, director Suba Das channels a Halloween vibe in a space that could hardly be more suited to it.
Vindice (Thomas Mothersdale) has plenty to hold against the Duke (Vincenzo Nicoli) and, with the help of brother Hippolito (Jack Hardwick), his own Puckish ubiquity and the skull of his long dead fiancee, he exacts the revenger's revenge promised in the title. Circling around this central storyline are fathers and sons (legitimate and illegitimate), mothers and a daughter (chaste and er... chased) and a pervasive sense that the court is suffused by a nihilistic narcissism that cloys and clings to those in thrall to its power. Like many an Eastenders Christmas Special, it doesn't end well.
The cuts made in this version do allow the key themes to be more explicitly presented, but the absence of Junior's two scheming brothers does make his erroneous execution tricky to place within the narrative. Working rather more successfully, was the use of video as flashback and as a jarring, insistent presence in the sepulchral space. It is in those moments that we see what drives Vindice to his terrible acts, ultimately sealing his own fate.
Writing on the day that even the Tory Press has turned against the hubris of a government that has lost its Chief Whip and shelters a weakened Chancellor for who knows how long, Middleton's insight into the soul-gnawing diminution a sense of entitlement imposes on those set above and apart from The Common Man, remains as relevant today as ever.