Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Incestuous Doings in Cambridge

Young Actors Company presents
Tis Pity She's A Whore
by John Ford
Wednesday 18th - Saturday 21st July
Wed & Thu £8/£6, Fri & Sat £9/£7

Free online booking ( or ring 01223 300085

‘With admiration I beheld this Whore
Adorned with beauty such as might restore’

The Young Actors Company (formerly Whizz Kids) return to the ADC with 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, a tragedy of religious skepticism, incestuous love and revenge. Written by John Ford and originally performed in the seventeenth century, it was the first major English play to take as its theme fulfilled incest between brother and sister.

The play's treatment of the subject of incest made it one of the most controversial works in English literature. Until well into the twentieth century, critics were usually harsh in their condemnations, but since then there has been a better understanding of the complexities and ambiguities of the work.

A unique chance to see this rarely-performed classic tragedy.


Liza said...

I saw this! It was truly fantastic. They cut a lot -- all the comic subplots, so that only the Annabella-Giovanni story and the Hippolita-Ricardetto-Soranzo subplot remained. And they had a widowed mother instead of a father, who had a really surreal laughing fit when faced with Giovanni's hearty dagger -- trying to pass it off as a joke for the dinner guests and shoo him offstage, then cackling maniacally until her death by broken heart a few lines later.

The most striking thing about the production, though, was that the actor playing Vasques completely stole the show -- the actor had long lanky hair and was sullen most of the time, but whenever he was onstage you couldn't take his eyes off him. The director created an implicit homoerotic bond between Vasques and Soranzo -- they have a hurried kiss at the end of one of their discussions about what to do about Annabella -- which only made him more interesting. And finally, instead of Vasques calling some Banditos to drag off Putana and blind her, Vasques does it himself, onstage, with some chunky fake blood to fling towards the audience after gouging out each eye.

The same theater did a production of The Alchemist in Michaelmas term, and a nearby church hosted a very edgy, quasi-improv production of The Changeling. Why can we not get this kind of thing going in the states?

(Sorry for the delayed comment, am only slowly discovering the number of Renaissance blogs out there ...)

Crispinella said...

Liza, that’s marvellous - thank you so much for posting this! I’m really intrigued by the idea of ‘Mistress’ Florio’s laughter in the face of Giovanni’s murderous activities (love the ‘hearty dagger’ line), especially as you say that they cut the comedy elsewhere… And the handling of Vasques sounds fabulous – it must have been fascinating to see The Changeling around the same time, if they were ramping up the master-servant dynamic in ’Tis Pity. (Sorry not to have responded to this sooner – I’d apologise for posting sporadically of late, if that didn’t imply that my posting at other times was more than sporadic…)