The Capone Trilogy: Vindici
Betrayal and brutality in Chicago fuses Jacobean melodrama and film noir
This article is from 2014.
Jethro Compton has become a firm Fringe favourite over the past few years: Vindici, part of his Capone Trilogy, is a fine example of his ability to bring together diverse influences into a coherent whole. The audacious melding of Jacobean melodrama and film noir transplants The Revenger’s Tragedy to 1943 Chicago, and is a masterclass in shifting moods and immersive theatre.
Building tension with a limited cast, Vindici creates an entire world of corruption and despair in a single room, gradually leading the three characters to their inevitable, bloody finale.
Set in a bedroom – and using flashback technique to flesh out the characters and the bleak atmosphere of a Chicago both decaying and vicious – Jamie Wilkes' script takes the violence of the source script and adds a familiar noir voice-over. The complex web of betrayals is kept hidden as Vindici unfurls his plot to avenge his wife’s seduction: elegantly structured, and unafraid of blurring the lines between fantasy and reality as Vindici plans his attack, the production is taut and precise, with barely a wasted line spoken.
Compton's direction is assured, fast in the action sequences but unafraid to slow the pace to highlight the sexual tension between Vindici and his accomplice Lucy – who happens to be the daughter of Vindici's target. Vindici's voice-over is occasionally played for laughs, but this only adds to the horror of the climax.
The intimacy of the set, the urgency of the passions driving the characters, the seedy atmosphere: Wilkes and Compton have combined these to demonstrate how a strong script, given dynamic direction, can rove around different tones, from the comic to the melodramatic, and still maintain a focus on its themes. Some superbly atmospheric music builds the tension, and solid performances make this both an entertaining hour and an powerful example of theatre's potential for immediacy.
C Nova, 0845 260 1234, until 25 Aug, 8.40pm, £11.50–£13.50 (£9.50–£11.50).