Christopher Marlowe reconnects with SE1 as Shakespeare's Globe presents Dido, Queen of Carthage - one of his early, lesser performed, plays written in about 1585.
The gods are at play in Dido, Queen of Carthage and indeed 'play' is one of the themes. The modern stage set is centred around a curved climbing frame and a long slide which provides a quick route from the heavens to the earth for the cast of gods who weave their intrigues. The gods behave as children at play capricious and gleeful in their handlings of human hearts.
Play is also there in the rhythmic use of words by Marlowe; it is a joy to the ear to hear the metrical sounds of the text – very accessible even to the modern listener. 'Instead of music I will hear him speak,' says Dido of Aeneas, her lover.
This summer the Shakespeare's Globe theme is one of Regime Change. The production reflects this as Aeneas' loss and flight from the city of Troy has him arriving safely by sea in Carthage , and ultimately, due to the antics of the gods, the arms of Dido , who has fallen desperately in love with him. This passion is short lived however as despite Aeneas' avowed love for her he is still moved to take revenge on the Greeks and sail away to seek yet more regime change. This proves fatal for Dido who feels she cannot live without him. Rakie Ayola in the title role is memorable for her instinct and strength.
The music, composed by Claire van Kampen, is beautiful and ethereal in this production, reflecting the playfulness with light staccato touches and hauntingly responsive to the extremes of sentiments.
I liked the innovative use of simple childrens' props on the stage, including the gods dressed as children in their parents' clothes.
A touching story, charmingly portrayed in a unique atmosphere. I recommend that you buy the programme, it's full of very helpful and interesting background information – also six actors take on fifteen parts in all – quite a performance.