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1992swan

'This production was a vehicle for a bravura performance by Anthony Sher as Tamburlaine [...] Both parts of Tamburlaine were used, although Part 2 was cut radically to fit the action into one evening's sitting [...] Despite this cutting, after the brouhaha of Part 1, it felt like time to goo home at the interval.

One of the dominant motifs of this production was Tamburlaine as the world conqueror; the world, in the form of a large skeletal globe atlas was used as a cage for Bajazeth, an image repeated in the orb Callapine used, and in Tamburlaine's chariot in Part 2 which looked as if it was made out of the skeletal globe prison now cut in half. Tamburlaine also died wrapped up in curtains decorated with a map of the world -- and this production made it clear that Tamburlaine died as a result of the wrath of "god". As he was struck down, Sher looked up to the heavens and then at the hole in the stage where the Koran had been burnt. With his dying breath this Tamburlaine enunciated the word "unconquered" at the heavens in utter disbelief.

Women get short shrift in the world of Tamburlaine, and the production sought to stress this. Zenocrate's humiliation at the hands of her kidnappers was stressed as her black, all covering costume was stripped from her by Tamburlaine so that her breasts were exposed. The horror of the treatment of the Virgins was emphasised by the fact that they were played by two very young girls. The story of Olympia was severely cut -- so that she jumped into a pit and killed herself almost immediately after her son's death -- but again the image of the female suffering was clear. Even Zabina's torment was given additional horror by the decision to make the meat offered tauntingly to the starving Bajazeth a finger cut from his wife's hand.

Apart from Theridamas' fascination and Zenocrate's love there was little real sense of Tamburlaine's charisma, or indeed how he got away with what he did. His nastiness was emphasised -- "Nature that framed us" was delivered directly into the face of the dying Cosroe. Tamburlaine strangled his son as he appeared to go to embrace him, and he was clearly more a killing machine than aspiring Renaissance man.'

Elizabeth Schafer, RORD 33 (1994), 132-3