Wednesday, November 17, 2021

#2,663. Edward II (1991)


A postmodern take on Christopher Marlowe’s classic Elizabethan play, Director Derek Jarmon’s Edward II transforms one of England’s most tragic figures - the Plantagenet king Edward II - into an advocate for gay rights.

Following the death of his father, Edward II (Steven Waddington) ascends the throne of England, and his first act is to recall his friend and lover Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan), who had been exiled.

Once back in England, Gaveston exacts revenge on those who supported his banishment, and in so doing angers many of the King’s advisors, including the militant Mortimer (Nigel Terry), who conspires with Edward’s neglected Queen, Isabella (Tilda Swinton), to depose the king and gain control of the realm.

Lifting dialogue straight out of Marlowe’s play while at the same time setting the story in modern day England, Jarmon lets his imagination run wild, utilizing sparse set pieces (to put the focus squarely on the characters) and even inserting a very cool musical sequence into the mix (Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics appears as herself, singing Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye” as Edward and Gaveston dance together in the background).

Throughout Edward II, Jarmon remains faithful to Marlowe’s depiction of Edward while also shining a light on homophobia, a hot-button issue as prevalent today as it was in 1991. With strong performances all around and a clever approach to the material, Jarmon’s Edward II is not to be missed.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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