Review: Crude Apache - Zastrozzi, The Master of Discipline, Dragon Hall, Norwich

View from the garden of Dragon Hall in Norwich
Dragon Hall, Norwich taken by Martin, 2006
(CC Attribution - NoDerivs 2.0)
It was my birthday last week and on Monday there was just nothing to do. I challenge you to find something to do in Norwich, on a Monday evening, when your budget is tighter than a tight thing. So when the opportunity arose to go and see Crude Apache's Zastrozzi on Friday evening, at half ticket price, that someone else was paying for no less, I jumped at it so hard I starfished full force and slid down the side into a happy, birthday heap of joy.

Dragon Hall

I do tend to get overly excited about new things. So the fact that the play was being held at Dragon Hall in Norwich already had me enthralled. Prior to the play I'd never been to Dragon Hall before. I've had a thing about dragons since I was little. And who wouldn't? Dragons are cool. So I was happy to finally get a chance to go and have a look at the inside. Yes, I am well aware that, despite the name, Dragon Hall does not, in fact, contain real dragons.  If you don't know, Dragon Hall is a very old, historical building on King Street in Norwich, near the river Wensum. It used to be a merchant's hall way back in the 1400s. It's now used for cultural events. What makes it special, besides the fact it is the last of it's kind remaining, is it's beautiful roof, full of wooden timbers and a carving of a Dragon, which was found in the rafters and inspired the re-naming of the building when it was restored....but I digress

We walked into the beautiful hall, walking across what was soon to become the stage. Sonface was still not completely recovered from the scrumptious Bloody Zastrozzi Cocktail, which he was convinced tasted like "garden".

Zastrozzi - The Master of Discipline


Barnardo - Tom Frances 
Zastrozzi - Leighton Williams
Varezzi - Tom Butterworth
Victor - Peter Barrow
Matilda - Jo Hipperson
Julia - Marianne Hayes

Zastrozzi was violent, erotic ("He will have you anyway he wants you"), seductive, vengeful, occasionally funny and the performance gripped your attention from the very first moment. At times the reactions from the audience were what made me chuckle. Just in the very first few moments, as Barnardo enters and hushes the audience with his intimidating presence, the guy behind me said "I'm really scared" and I almost sniggered out loud. There were a few awkward shuffles around the audience.

It soon becomes very obvious that his was a story of revenge. Zastrozzi blamed Varezzi for murdering his mother and hunted him relentlessly. Varezzi was a narcissistic, priviledged artist. His servant, his biggest critic, kept Varezzi's feet on the ground but also, constantly on the move, keeping one step ahead as he was being hunted by Zastrozzi. A German with a reputation all over Europe as a vicious killer.  The violent and revenge obsessed Zastrozzi had a dysfunctional and aggressive relationship with his masochistic mistress, Matilda and they plotted together to bring about the downfall of Varezzi.

When Zastrozzi was getting familiar with the innocent young Julia, I couldn't help but smile when I noticed one lady in the audience clutching at her neck defensively whilst another flushed and massaged her décolletage.  I had to remind myself that it was ok, it wasn't real, as Barnardo dragged the flailed and crying Julia, in chains across the stage. The sword fighting was brilliant and I don't think there could have been a more perfect venue short of gatecrashing Norwich Castle and swashbuckling around the balcony of the keep.

I admit I completely lost interest in trying to take notes on what was going on, and settled in to watch, what turned out to be a most amazing show.


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