Edward II Play | Sport For Jove

Director's Notes

"Fie on that love that, hatcheth death and hate." - Kent—Scene IV, Act V

Marlowe’s Edward II is a play about desire and how public and political worlds are determined and constituted by private forces. Marlowe presents us with a dark, dangerous and ambiguous vision of the human condition, a complex investigation of how the world really operates when power and passion collide in spectacular ways. For Edward, desires imperatives are absolute and he will do anything to pursue his love even if it eclipses the law and threatens to destroy his kingdom.

Like the ancient Greeks, Marlowe explores how excess and passion always leads to catastrophe and destruction. It was these ideas that attracted me to the play —a historical tragedy that although written in the sixteenth century, transcends time and speaks to our contemporary world where the personal is political and the political is always driven by the personal.

There is an unsettling ambiguity which unfolds through the play, often leaving the audience unsure of their response to the characters and their behaviour. They all seem to possess the capacity for great love, tenderness and vulnerability but also great ruthlessness and savagery when under pressure and in crisis. We are, in my view, presented with a complex vision of the human condition - our morality and
sympathies are always brought into question and, like Kent, we constantly shift our own feelings towards the characters and the situation.

Transgression lies at the heart of Edward II and is embodied in the myth of Diana and Actaeon, where the hunter Actaeon spies on the goddess Diana (herself the goddess of the hunt) bathing naked. Outraged that Actaeon has seen her naked she transforms him into a hart and his own dogs tear him apart, for having transgressed his mortal limits. The allusion to the hunter and the quarry pervades most scenes and Edward repeatedly refers to himself as both the hunted hart and the hunter lion. The myth of Diana and Actaeon addresses the idea of human transgression of the sacred - when the king’s sacredness is exposed by the commoner Gaveston, he becomes somehow less that sacred or divine and therefore the quarry for a hunt in a perverse inversion of the myth. He is both Actaeon and Diana, the scared and the profane, semi-divine but all too human and for this duality he will be torn apart by his barons.

Marlowe revels in the classical world and mythology, which is profoundly juxtaposed to his anarchic disrespect of the Catholic Christian church. His writing seems to find greater comfort and human truth through the learning of the classical rather than the Christian. A famous atheist, Marlowe uses Edward and the Catholic context of the fourteenth century, as a safe vehicle to rail against the church and  reinforce the power of classical learning and the homosexual tendencies that were a key part of the Greco – Roman world. It seems to me that Edward wants to explore his relationship in the same way as  Achilles and Patroclos, Alexander and Hephaestion, Hercules and Hilos - the great archetypes of the classical Greek world. 

In a contemporary world where we are still debating the right of gay men and women to marry, where personal desires and beliefs have a profound effect on politics and policy the text takes on a profound resonance. Edward, although essentially a ‘weak’ king as he has come to us through history can be viewed through the lens of not just an Elizabethan eye but a modern one. What are the qualities that make a ‘good’ king or leader? How do you reign when you cannot rule? What are the lines between the personal and public? His misfortune is further compounded by the fact that he is sandwiched between two of the greatest medieval leaders – his father Edward I and son Edward III. The cycle of strong ‘masculine’ warlike leadership seems broken with Edward and for that he is a subject of scorn for some and fascination for others.

- Terry Karabelas

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Reviews

"A play about illicit desires, deception, loss and friendship, Edward II is gripping and complex, with enough twists and turns to keep you thoroughly enthralled."
"Sport For Jove has hit the nail on the head with Edward II. They’ve brought to life with excellent skill Marlowe’s twisted tale of revenge and forbidden love. It is most definitely worth the watch."
"Once again, Sport for Jove has excelled in staging a production that thrills, and, in this case, shocks, horrifies … and resonates profoundly."
"The show had plenty in it to ponder and reflect on…the main reason I continue to go to the theatre…."

Cast & Crew

Cast

Princess of Kent
Bishop of Canterbury
Warwick, Abbess
Hugh Spencer
Prince Edward
Isabella
Mortimer
Edward II
Piers Gaveston, Lightborn
Lancaster, Matrevis
Baldock, Gurney

Crew

Set Designer
Assistant Stage Manager
Sound Design / Videography
Stage Manager
Costume Designer
Assistant Stage Manager
Scenic Artist
Lighting Designer
Fight Director/Movement
Director

Venues / FAQ’s

The Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre

The Reginald Theatre is a small, informal studio-style theatre that holds 150 to 200 people. With fixed raked seating can be supplemented by additional seating in front of the stage area this space is ideal for theatre and dance performances.