‘Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) gave the première of Francis Warner’s new play Byzantium in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, followed by two performances in the University Church, Oxford, and another in Winchester Cathedral.
‘Byzantium is a play in two acts. It opens in 527 A.D. with the service in which Justinian is crowned Emperor in succession to his uncle Justin. In Act One Justinian is full of zeal and optimism for the tasks which his vision sets before him. Act Two is altogether more sombre, with unrest at home, news of a catastrophic earthquake in Beirut, and even Byzantium itself plague-stricken and the Empress herself dying. Moreover, the Emperor is plotted against by wily Cappadocian, who is trapped by the spirited Antonina, only to be spared from death by the Christian magnanimity of Justinian.
‘This complex background is sketched lightly yet comprehensively by Warner in elegant and beautiful verse, which was delivered with clarity and fluency by an admirable young cast directed by Tim Prentki
‘Warner did not choose an easy subject with Byzantium. He chose a challenge and he rose to that challenge and surmounted it magnificently. He is a master of plot and characterisation, and, indeed, of the English language, which he commands with a benign authority and loving finesse.’ The StageMore info →