Jethro Compton cranks up the tension for the second instalment of The Capone Trilogy: Lucifer. With Capone himself locked up in jail there’s a puncture in ‘the outfit’ and it’s going down fast. It’s not long before eyes and rumours start to turn their focus towards reluctant Nick Nitti (David Calvitto) as the most likely candidate to step up to the mark.
The pressure bubbles away from the off with a tense exchange between Nick and Michael (Oliver Tilney). The men are bound by the ties of family but separated by the hard line of the law and, as they eye each other up, they talk business and swap warnings carefully cloaked in forced smiles. Nick is insistent that his hands are clean but under pressure from the mob he is soon enticed and corrupted by power.
The safe haven of the small suite in The Lexington where he lives with his young wife Marlene (Suzie Preece) becomes the base for his bloody business. Every shrill ring of the telephone is answered by his snarling murderous orders or her quaking fear. The dynamic between the pair is perfect as Calvitto metamorphoses from caring to menacing and Preece watches on fragile, helpless and horror stricken.
The comedy of part one, Loki, is missed but not for long. Lucifer sees Jethro Compton slip back into his usual high-tension fare and it’s clear this is where he feels most at home. The play is packed to bursting with drama then explodes with a violence that literally shakes the room. It’s unapologetically all-out gangster movie stuff and watching big action unfurl itself in such a small space is an incredible and utterly gripping experience.
There are a few teasing references to angels here and there but otherwise Lucifer is a subtle reimagining of the Biblical legend. A crime too far has disastrous consequences for Nick and the Family in a taut and gut-wrenching climax and the ultimate fall from grace. The final stand-off between Nick and Michael may swing slightly too close to melodramabut but Lucifer is razor-sharp, up close and personal and leaves you hungry for more.
The Capone Trilogy – Lucifer is at C nova (Venue 145) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.