“Husband to a murdered wife, Vindice swears he will take revenge on the Metropolitan Police. But his plot is doomed from its very beginnings to spiral out of control, hurting the ones he loves and himself, all in the name of revenge.”
‘Empathy is the poor man’s cocaine’ in ‘Vindice’, a world of venom and vigilantes, sharp as a snakebite. A tragic three-hour marriage – that ugly ‘unfortunate business’ – is the lynchpin and the driving force behind this original drama, by Alexander Curtis, coming to the Annex this week.
Set in modern-day London, (riots in Clapham are a hint to its pertinent immediacy) Revenge, is a hungry mistress, and she demands to be fed. Matricide, back-door deals and nepotism are at play here, in a world where everybody is on the take.
Vindice – played by Cam Bevan – wages war on the forces that conspire against him, Curtis writing and directing a seedy, urban underworld in which crooked cops run the show. A nasty grudge in this town can lead to a bullet in the back in an alley in the dark… or an ominous promotion. Crime has never been so unappealing.
‘Money, it’s a gas.’ Ben George plays the corrupt Met Commissioner, ‘Duke’ to his cronies, making the Murdochs look like smiling Buddhas. His ‘unsanitary affairs’ are propped up by the Deputy, Sam Jenkins-Shaw, as they cling to power amidst a complex thread of side-stories that all unravel as one in the play’s brutal conclusion. Every one of them must suffer.
Join the investigation as Vindice leads the charge against a corrupt constabulary. Standing alongside him is Johnny Baynham as Hippolito, his closest ally, as the lines between the forces of law and disorder become all the more fatally obscured.
There is an air of 80s sleaze to this play, a coke infused nightmare distilled into skittish paranoid neuroses. In ‘Vindice,’ finding someone to do your dirty work is only a phone call away. Alexis Forss and Tom Searle play Ambitioso and Supervacuo, a pair of lackadaisical ne’er do wells, two scheming stoners with plans of their own. In socks and sandals, they muse on the vagaries of modern fashion, and plot the downfalls of their peers.
Curtis’s play is modelled on Middleton’s ‘Revenger’s Tragedy,’ yet Sophocles and Shakespeare are both ostensible spiritual fathers of this drama; Tarantino sitting in the wings alongside them, with all the guns, girls and gore of a Martina Cole novel. And who could forget the choice use of music and mesmerising dance sequences choreographed by David Gray interspersed throughout the action of the running time, a graceful counterpoint to a cruel and violent world.
The result is a compelling patchwork of institutional intrigue and implacable vendetta. ‘Vindice’ is a powerful celebration of the art of revenge, its blood splattered beauty, its glorious Schadenfreude, but one which reflects equally on its morbid, unforgiving consequences, its extended vacations bobbing face-down in the Thames.
Watch with trepidation as its characters each grab at the greasy pole of fortune. Exactly where they end up, however – who can say?
‘Vindice’ opens on Wednesday 9th May at 7.30pm at The Annex Theatre.