Klingon Tamburlaine

school of night · Ages 13+ · United States of America

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July 02, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

I immediately bought the conceit of a presentation as a Starfleet cultural outreach program when I heard it, and shortly after bought a ticket. I was utterly delighted with the execution. As warrior poets, mapping Kabuki performance techniques and modalities to the choices of Klingon actors in interpreting a Terran (Earth-based) classical work served to clarify and elevate the emotional content of the speech. This made the text easy to follow along with, although I must confess I have a more than passing familiarity with many of the references mapped to the adaptation of the work, so I may have enjoyed it more than a person unfamiliar with the more extraterrestrial source material.

What I didn't like

Naturally, I would like to see a broader staging more reminiscent of the sanguine metal Klingon worlds fans may be familiar with. I thought the flames uplighting the red curtains in the venue was an inspired approximation of this, but some of the battle scenes would be so much more thrilling with twice the dancers on stage. Of course, a piece is not always improved when performed in a larger venue with more extraneous performers thrown at it, and the restrictions of the stage speak to the Kabuki influences on brilliant display.

My overall impression

I deliberated for some time on whether or not to review Tamburlaine before attending this piece. I’m glad I didn’t: it was way more exciting to see Klingon actors adapt it in their own voices. The commentary on Klingon opinions of other cultures leaks out in subtle ways throughout the way this story is told. If you watch this piece with that other level of commentary, this is so much more than a goofy premise, but takes a satirical approach to the notion of adapting and personalizing classical texts itself. If you know much about the Klingon people, this is a synthesis of bold choices you owe yourself.

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