It isn’t summer without an outdoor Shakespearian play. Head Trick Theatre has, excuse the pun, turned that idea on its head with its latest selection The Revenger’s Tragedy by Thomas Middleton, a Shakespearean contemporary. They have taken over the quaint park across from the Narragansett Boat Company in Providence, overlooking the scenic Seekonk River, which, before I go on, gives just about the greatest air conditioning I have experienced all summer. And I went on the really muggy hot days — you wouldn’t have known it was so gross everywhere else. It was beautiful! (And while I’m talking about things that made me happy, River Road is untouched by insane parking rules and meters. It is such an easy venue to get to!)
As you enter the outdoor theater, you are greeted with beautiful music coming from the violin of Armand Aromin. What a perfect way to start the play, as the actors immediately come out and set the night with a song. And before I move on, I have to say kudos to A. Sawyer Henry who facilitated the mask design. The costumes in this show are simple — red, black, modern dress. But the masks added a bit of old world flavor to the show. They were just fantastic.
This play was written in the 17th century, yet has themes that still sadly resonate today — revenge, murder, greed, corruption. This play has it all. At the top of it is Vindice, with his brother Hippolito’s assistance, posing as a servant to seek out revenge on the Duke, who poisoned Vindice’s lover years earlier. The plan is to first take out his revenge on the Duke’s heir, Lussurioso. This play, although as old as the Bard’s “Scottish Play” is not as widely known, and I wouldn’t want to spoil your night by giving away too much of the plot. I went into it blindly, and am so glad I did as it was a treat to watch the events unfold in front of me. I will say this, 17th century or not, The Revenger’s Tragedy has a plot that would make even a Kardashian blush.
Although this is not one of Shakespeare’s plays, you will see similar aspects. For example, the play is chock full of some wonderful asides.
This truly is an ensemble piece. Every single performer in this show did a terrific job. However, I would be doing you a great disservice if I didn’t mention just how darn fabulous Christine Pavao is in the role of the Vindice, the revenger. Besides the fact that she has one of those voices made for theater — you know what I’m talking about — the kind of voice that makes you sit up at full attention in the audience. She handles the role of the revenger with perfect aplomb, despite the fact that she is playing the role of a man. In fact, many of the women in this production play male roles, which is such a breath of fresh air!
Head Trick Theatre is really onto something special here. It would be a shame if you missed the production. Shakespeare no longer owns the parks in the summer!
The Revenger’s Tragedy runs Friday, August 19 and Sunday, August 21 at 8pm. Grab your lawn chair or blanket and head on down! The suggested donation is $15. Visit headtricktheatre.org for more info.