It's always fun to see a piece of classic theatre revised and adapted for the modern world, and even more so when the play in question has previously flown fully under your radar. Venice Preserved is one of these. And the RSC’s take on the 17th century tragedy is, to put it mildly, visually and emotionally staggering.

Its import to note by the way that I didn’t know it was a tragedy going in... I try not to read too much about a play before seeing it if I don't already know the story, and to that end I should offer to a SPOILER-Warning now to anyone of a similar mind...

In this case, my not knowing was hamstrung slightly as by pure coincidence I was sat next to Prasanna Puwanarajah the show’s director. Who, when we spoke at the interval, openly laughed at my hopes for a ‘positive’ resolution to the story... Which added a bit of a grim sense of foreboding to the latter half of the evening...

Invested as I was to the central characters by this point...

No small part of the credit here goes to actors Jodie McNee, Stephen Fewell and Micheal Grady-Hall for their performances. McNee in particular gives an outstanding performance, which at times really does rip the heart right out of you... it’s a very sad ending guys...

The shows backdrop is very reminiscent of (and at times pulls directly from) dystopian classics like ‘1984’, ‘V for Vendetta’ and ‘Blade Runner’ along with a good smattering of 80’s nostalgia (the soundtrack’s a lot of fun). This, when combined with the classical language and blistering satire of the corruption and moral hypocrisy of the city’s leaders, as well the mistreatment of the female characters (on both sides of the conflict) makes the brewing revolution that the story centres around feel both otherworldly and uncomfortably topical at the same time.

The show’s technical crew deserve a sizeable nod as well. The enjoyable soundtrack aside, it was the little things about the soundscape that were most impressive. The sound of rain falling, the humming of machinery, the faintest echo added to an actors voice while in a prison cell. And while we’re on the subject, the cell in question (created entirely by lighting effects) is a truly inspired piece of theatre craft.

All these touches and attention to detail go a long way in immersing an audience in the ‘reality’ of the world of the play. And by extension the tragic fate of it’s characters...

I got to see Venice Preserved as part of the latest collaboration between the RSC and The Monobox, to make performances at Stratford more readily accessible. Meaning that I had a seat on a coach to and from central London and Stratford upon Avon and my ticket for the show for only £20.

Sign up for the Monobox Mailing List here, and keep and eye out for future offers.

To buy tickets for Venice Preserved you can click here:

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