“Murder in the Cathedral” is regarded as one of T.S. Eliot’s best because it revived the use of poetic verse in drama. The Rude Mechanicals’ production presents a traditional interpretation of the work in performances this weekend.
“(“Murder in the Cathedral”) has everything you want in a play,” director and LSA sophomore Lisa Fetman said. “It has death, violence, crying, poetry and happy moments.”
In contrast to many recent student productions of classic plays such as “Romeo and Juliet,” Fetman made the choice not to update the work. “I kept it really simple,” she said. “I wanted the language to speak for itself and let all the technicalities shine through the actors.”
The production takes place in Canterbury during the 12th century and follows the events that led to the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket. “The characters are dealing with the entrance of violence into a place that is peaceful. The play questions whether dying or killing for peace is something that actually makes sense,” Fetman said.
The tale begins when Becket returns to Canterbury, aware that his life is in danger because of his volatile relationship with King Henry II. Becket believed in the separation of church and state, while the King felt otherwise. The Archbishop encourages peace as political conflicts regarding the issue escalate, resulting in his death and initiation into sainthood. “(Then the play) poses a question to the audience,” Fetman said. “Did he do this (purposely) for himself or the good of the people?
Fetman admitted that the material could be challenging for some, but she acknowledges that anyone expecting the usual poetic drama will be greatly disappointed with “Murder.” “Although the play is based on historical events, much of it is fictionalized and manipulated for the audience’s sake.
“The (story messes) with you,” she said. “(It) will take you on this path and you’ll turn right when you think you’ll turn left.” The play discusses the effects of conflict regarding separation of church and state, but it is really a commentary on violence and war. The director hopes that the audiences will keep current events in mind and prepare for a “journey” when the play opens tonight.
“I want people to see what’s going on in the world,” Fetman said. “That is the intention, because it’s very relevant to the structure of today’s world.”