Howard Barker’s The Castle isn’t exactly a lightweight production to take on, written in the eighties it’s a complicated, and wordy, battle of the sexes. Directed by Adam Hemming, and performed under the vaulted ceilings of The Space, the play feels relevant again today, as the scandal of a Hollywood producer unravels, and similar accusations are no doubt on the horizon.
Set in an unknown, but probably medieval era, a group of men return from the crusades, and are shocked to find that everything has changed. The women they left behind have abandoned their farm land and their church, they have birthed children to the old men, and taken up lesbian relationships.
Stucley (Anthony Cozens) is devastated to find his wife (Shelley Davenport) has taken up with the obsessive, and controlling Skinner (Kate Tulloch). Angry and rejected he enlists Krak (Chris Kyriacou) to design a castle, a giant phallic symbol, which will help restore patriarchy. As the build continues, society crumbles, and the gulf between the sexes widens. Barker’s incessant use of foul language seems shocking at first, but soon blends in to the normal altercations between the men and the women.
Whilst not the easiest plot to follow, this production does admirably in keeping the audience engaged, this is mainly down to passionate performances from the cast; Cozens and Tulloch in particular, portray their characters with heated passion, which does help focus the audience on the many twists and turns.