Gerard Logan took a risk by adapting one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known pieces, the narrative poem “The Rape of Lucrece”, which he performed single-handedly at the Drill Hall on February 10th.
Lucrece, the virgin wife of the Roman general Collatine, is raped by her husband’s best friend, Prince Tarquin, and commits suicide after suffering great anguish. The poem explores the dreadful act of rape and the mental turbulence that follows for both the rapist and the victim.
Logan managed to captivate the audience, and made them feel almost uncomfortable as he enacted the crime, but he also emphasised the mental instability that both characters suffer from as a consequence.
Logan appeared on a bare set, dressed in beige robes. His clear Shakespearian speech was clear and passionate, so that even if one didn’t understand the meanings behind the words, the plot was easy to follow.
The brilliance of the poem lies in the build up to Lucrece’s rape, as the powerful language describes Tarquin’s lust for her. Logan projected this passion brilliantly and displayed a highly-disturbed man, which enhanced the tension in the room. He had great vocal control, which meant that even in times of immense emotion he was able to remain heard and understood by the audience.
More could have been done with the show’s lighting, as there was just one white light that lit up the entire stage. This meant that the mood had to be solely created through the acting, and that there was no atmospheric help. A dimmed light or a spotlight at certain points could have enhanced the atmosphere or help create suspense at particularly intense moments.
However, the use of musical interludes was brilliant and really animated certain aspects of the poem. It allowed Logan to heighten the tension at moments of immense emotion, such as the seconds before the rape took place with Tarquin lingering outside Lucrece’s chamber.
When changing between characters, Logan remained compelling as he swapped accents and mannerisms, and he was easily identifiable as each person he played.
When he first began to play Lucrece, it felt slightly awkward because he spoke in an incredibly high-pitch voice that was not believable. He soon grew into the role.
This production saw Logan bring to life the genius of Shakespeare like never before, and it was easy to see why he was nominated for an Olivier award as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He took the risk of being the first to adapt this piece, and it paid off.Tweet