The Romans are attacking Carthage, alliances are forged and broken with dizzying speed, and amid it all Carthaginian princess Sophonisba is pursued by two opposing generals. John Marston's 1606 tragedy has some wonderful touches, and the Headfirst company turn in a clutch of strong and thoughtful performances which convert the heroine's stoical acceptance of her unjust end into a stream of sarcastic vitriol at her mistreatment by husband and assailant alike.
Alas, in cutting the play to 80 minutes much of (especially) the first two expository acts is rendered incomprehensible, so that the lumbering "greater" forces racking the unfortunate Sophonisba gallop by in a fog. An inadequate vehicle for an obviously talented and intelligent company.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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