Wallenstein, at Chichester, June 2009Posted on 7 June 2009
This was adapted by Mike Poulton from Schiller’s trilogy: Wallenstein’s Camp, The Piccolomini and Wallenstein’s Death. The story takes place during the chaotic Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) when Wallenstein, fighting on behalf of the Austrian emperor was a brilliantly successful general, inspiring loyalty and admiration among his troops. He was superbly played by Iain Glen, showing his over-trusting nature and impulsiveness. His wife Elizabeth, his daughter, and his wife’s sister, the redoubtable Countess Terzky were all well portrayed by Jessica Turner, Annabel Scholey and Charlotte Emmerson. His daughter falls in love with a young colonel, Max Piccolomini, excellently acted by Max Irons. He is almost a surrogate son to Wallenstein, and is the only character invented by Schiller, while the rest, including his father Octavio Piccolomini, very cleverly played by Anthony Calf, were real figures of history. Among the other generals, Count Terzky was skilfully represented by Paul Hickey, and Buttler, who kills Wallenstein off-stage was strongly played by Denis Conway.
This adaptation by Mike Poulton gave a fine insight into the strengths and weaknesses of Wallenstein, showing his enthusiasm for astrology, which caused fatal hesitation in waiting for the right omens. He was murdered in 1634 by those plotting against him, and this formed a strong but bloody end to the play. The direction by Angus Jackson kept the action moving rapidly. The costumes by Sian Harris were excellent, and the wonderfully realistic fight sequence, involving Max and a drunken general, was brilliantly arranged by Terry King.