Carthage Must Be Destroyed review at Traverse Edinburgh
In a time of domestic unrest, a leader whose popularity is waning and who wants to retain their grip on power can do so by taking their country to war.
And in a democracy, however skin deep its suffrage might be, said leader needs to both ensure the country is clamouring for the fight and the finances are in position, long before they publicly take their premeditated decision.
Such cynically Machiavellian manoeuvring finds obvious modern resonances, particularly when the leader professes a moral high ground. But in Alan Wilkins’ tough script, given a muscular and determined production under director Lorne Campbell, this is Rome in the time of the Third Punic War.
Tony Guilfoyle gives a horribly plausible performance as Cato, preparing his inner coterie with an off-the-record meeting. Sean Campion’s nicely judged senator Gregor, a dilettante with a penchant for young boys, will spread rumours of war. Damian Lynch, beautifully pitched as the pedantic, up-and-coming Marcus, will massage the statistics.
The first half, set in the steamy atmosphere of designer Kenny Miller’s shining baths, is a confidently pronounced analysis of an empire preparing for war – with the added frisson of Paul-James Corrigan as Cato’s gauche young nephew added to the mix.
More should be made of these established characters in the dragging second half – largely played out by Gregor and a Carthaginian youth in a villa overlooking Carthage at the end of its long siege.
Although this shortcoming does not spoil the vicious precision of the final denouement.
Traverse, Edinburgh, April 27-May 19
- Alan Wilkins
- Lorne Campbell
- Traverse Theatre Company
- Cast includes
- Damian Lynch, Sean Campion, Paul-James Corrigan,Tony Guilfoyle
- Running time
- 2hrs 40mins
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.