Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
“We will be doing Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II!”
I have to admit I had an OMFG! moment when I heard this statement at the top of the show. I had actually done (you know…like acted in, as a boy..yes there’s that…highly convincingly…yes really..) this production in its entirety for the Christopher Marlowe Festival in New York City years ago. So, on one hand, I had a fond appreciation for the dedication to the violent enormity of it all. But the prospect of sitting through the full feature-length modified KlingonTamburlaine space odyssey nevertheless hit me with just a little bit of anxiety. But I hunkered down and took a deep breath. It was going to be a long afternoon.
Most of us regulars at Fringe are no strangers to School of Night’s extraordinary gift for adapting and reinventing classics, bringing them back to life with a very twisted twist. If anyone remembers Punch and Judy (2015), The Faggot King (2016) and Hercules Insane (2017), you will recall just how deep this group can go to explore classical, medieval and ancient myths of power play.
In that respect, Klingon Tamburlaine was like ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. So epic in its course, S.O.N. takes the bloody sci-fi conquest to depths even Marlowe could not have imagined…and neither could have we. Seriously.
Marlowe’s lowly shepherd turned dread bandit-warlord who would be Klingon king, has been transported across the Neutral Zone, into the Romulan Empire to take by force every star and planet available in the Galaxy leaving desolation in his wake and the enemy Romulan Empire forging an alliance with the hated Federation.
Though Kahless himself, angry god of arms,
And all of Qo’noS’s potentates conspire
To dispossess me of this new-won crown,
Yet will I wear it in despite of them
As great commander of all Klingondom.
Full bowls of bloodwine to the god of war!
-Tamburlaine the Great
For fans of Star Trek and the Klingon ‘faithful’, Klingon Tamburlaine is an insanity of over-the-top awesomeness to the core packed with language, movement, scenes, and behaviors true to the species. Classical theater aficionados will admire – get excited even – about how authentic to the original this production remains even in its Klingon translation and style. If there were any drawbacks at all, it really was in the length of the piece, which does feel long even at only 105 minutes.
There are plenty of recognizable interplanetary battle-scene gags enhanced by on-purpose and truly hilarious prop designs, mini starship models and foley as well as percussion driving every moment. The fight choreography, as always is impeccable. Monumentally empyrean (i.e. cosmically epic) performances by the entire cast.
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