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The Broken Heart

Published March 19, 2015

What’s it all about?

The twisted courting of ancient Sparta, where Penthea is cruelly ripped from the arms of her betrothed by her misguided brother and given as wife to jealous old chap Bassanes.

Needless to say her lover is a little miffed and looking for sweet, sweet revenge – so he pretends to be a scholar, as you would – she’s also fairly non-plussed with the situation and a heap of coincidences are set to align, making everyone wish the fates weren’t such bloodthirsty masters.

Who’s in it?

Game Of Thrones alumni Owen Teale is a treat as the fawning, whiney, lecherous and clinically covetous Bassanes, finding all the funny in the horrendous husband who’s less secure than an unguarded gold bar under a ‘Nick Me’ sign.

Brian Ferguson brings an impish energy to the vengeful Orgilus, prancing, cavorting and winning the audience while disguising a cruel ambition.

Rising star of Shakespeare’s Globe Sarah MacRae lends a spark and twinkle to princess Calantha before flipping her performance to finish in terrifying fashion.

What should I watch out for?

The dark, impactful opening that begins proceedings with a jolt more shocking than lightning shouting “Boo!”

Joe Jameson’s entrance as Nearchus, Prince of Argos – stop it, there’s nothing funny about that – which is one “Woof!” away from channelling Lord Flashheart.

Max Jones’ stunning costumes that range from a candelabra-inspired corset to regalia that makes Patrick Godfrey’s Amyclas look like Thor’s grandpa. As ever in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, they are lit beautifully by candles, shadows flickering and drifting to create the perfect atmosphere.

In a nutshell?

Another triumph for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as love and revenge in ancient Sparta finds a surprising funny bone.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Sian_Estelle The costumes in #SWPBrokenHeart gave me chills. Sensational. Rivalling my favourite bed dress from #ROHLormindo

@CluelessKatie One thing I learnt from #SWPBrokenHeart is that @SarahEMacRae can definitely dance. Gonna have to try out her moves later. @The_Globe

Will I like it?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the experience of watching a play under candlelight at the SWP has never been less than a treat. As they learn more about the lighting, the venue takes more risks delivering ever more striking results.

John Ford’s The Broken Heart is a classic tragic romp, packed with deception, intrigue, passion and death. Director Caroline Steinbeis has done a fantastic job of finding all the humour in the piece – so much so that at times you question how tragic it actually is. Then it gets grisly again. – and her cast revel in it. The design, too, is a thing of beauty.

If you don’t like it I’ll sit in an innocuous chair and let you take your revenge. (You will, of course, have to see it to understand anything about this offer.)

The Broken Heart runs at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe until 18 April. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

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