Scenes From An Execution by Howard Barker

By Howard Barkerscenes-from-execution-7510

Directed by Andrew Root

Produced by Runcible Theatre

At the Royal George Gallery Theatre, Chicago

Over acting and annoying staging dooms drama about artistic expression.

The folks at Runcible Theatre Company have attempted the talky Scenes From an Execution by British playwright Howard Barker in the tiny Gallery space at the Royal George Theatre. That space is inadequate for such a play about a painter painting a mural to celebrate the City of Venice winning the Battle of  Lepanto in 1571 against the Turks.


The artist and sensualist Galactia (Sarah Chalcroft) is chosen to commemorate the triumph; instead, she fills a staggering one thousand square feet of canvas with violence, suffering and death. Another battle ensues between artist and state, with Galactia unremitting in the face of extreme adversity. 

This two hour drama is filled with many long speeches by Sarah Chalcroft in her native British accent that she spoke so rapidly that most of what she said was unintelligible. Add her screaming to emphasize her emotions and we have a show that appears to be the ramblings of a crazy painter bent on defying her patrons. This production contained many installations and dismantling of a painter’s scaffolding that greatly distracted from the story. Galactia’s tantrums resulted in Urgentino, the Doge of Venice (Stephen Fedo) having several animated tantrums of his own. This overwritten drama was repetitive and boring, especially when the venue was as hot as a sauna, making for a most tedious and unenviable experience. Sarah Chalcoft and Stephen Fedo so overacted their parts that the drama almost slipped into farce. In the over heated venue, this show was not a good experience.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 13, 2015

For more info checkout the Scenes From an Execution page at

At the Royal George Gallery Theatre, 1641 N Halsted St, Chicago, Il, 60614, 312 988 9000. tickets $35, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through March 29, 2015