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Rebecca Smith's directorial adaptation of Freidrich Schiller's 'Don Carlos' is unusual for a Fringe play in lasting well over an hour, though the performance has still been heavily edited by Mike Poulton by a remarkable two-thirds. The performance feels inhibited by this time pressure, as scenes overlap for a quick turnaround to waste as little time as possible, but this keeps the drama intense.
Smith's production is effectively minimalist, performed by a cast in basic formal attire with only basic lighting and sound effects to supplement the fine acting. Well-chosen from Sedos' players, each cast member really looks the part, from the young and effeminate Don Carlos himself to the King's creepy aides, and each puts in a heartfelt performance, unperturbed by the fact that the audience surrounding them is hardly larger than the cast itself.
Despite its classical foundation, this is an accessible modern play that avoids deterring casual theatregoers through pompous language, but at the same time its themes of conspiracy, near-incestuous love and honour are timeless. The heavy editing means that marginal activities are kept to a minimum, the ending being particularly abrupt, but this is still a high quality performance if you can catch it in its limited run.
One of Schiller's most exciting works.