Tamburlaine, Old Vic, Bristol
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Monday 24 October 2005
It's an evening of mighty verse, glittering imagery and compulsive violence. The two-part play (the sequel is shoehorned into a single three-hour show) sees Tamburlaine hack his way through ancient Persia, Turkey and Egypt.
The evening's trump card is Hicks, exuding Olympian disdain, a sardonic touch and a Bond villain's obsession with global domination. As the atrocities pile up like a pyramid of skulls, Tamburlaine's barbarity has a certain razzle-dazzle about it. Whether using a captive king as a foot stool or having civilians drowned en masse, no one can accuse him of a lack of style.
There's not a lot of fun for his captives. King Bajazeth (the superb Jeffery Kissoon) beats his own brains out rather than suffer the indignities of his cage. And Tamburlaine is quite prepared to kill one of his own sons - "an effeminate brat" - with the same contempt he reserves for his foes.
Zenocrate (played by a dignified Rachael Stirling) provides a note of romance and some rare diplomacy. The grieving Tamburlaine, at her wasting death scene, conjures up an echo of his own eventual demise.
Tamburlaine calls, as he dies, for a world map to see how much territory "the great Tartaric thief" has pinched. King Lear wanted to give all his away. Tamburlaine, mortally ill, has still got places to go.
The mixed-race cast and ethnic string music seem appropriate considering the global nature of the military project. The staging isn't inspirational; but with the bombast and savagery intact, it makes the point that war crimes and the cult of personality are nothing new.
It is above all a rare treat to be exposed to Marlowe, Shakespeare's equal, in full flight. Hicks, with his vinegary voice and sinuous presence, certainly leaves the play's soaring poetry and bloodthirsty blasphemies ringing in the ears.
To 29 October (0117-987 7877); then at the Barbican, London EC2 (020-7638 8891), 9 to 19 November
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
MasterChef 2015: Simon Wood named winner
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election