Friday, 17 April 2015

Luke Williams reviews 'Tis Pity She's A Whore' - the second of his reviews on recent productions of revenge tragedies.

Luke Williams, a third year English Literature Student at the University of Gloucestershire, reflects on his recent visit to London's Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to see John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's A Whore.

John Ford’s Tis Pity She’s A Whore was brilliantly brought to life by Michael Longhurst’s production at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse (pictured below).

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, based on drawings by seventeenth-century architect John Webb, is an excellent reproduction of a Jacobean private theatre. This space was intended to accentuate the intimacy and horror of plays such as Ford’s incestuous revenge tragedy. This certainly came across in the way Tis Pity She’s A Whore was staged. Giovanni’s dramatic entrance with his sister and lover’s heart on a dagger was made even more hideous and intense by his entering almost into the audience who were seated in the pit (as pictured below).

The intimacy of the play was inescapable, from the fact that the audience see the sexual aspects of Giovanni and Annabella’s relationship, to the manner in which Giovanni (played by Max Bennett), delivered his asides almost directly to the members of the gallery above. Interestingly, the audience were also made to participate and collude with the forbidden lovers, as Putana and Annabella threw discarded garments into the audience exclaiming, ‘hide it!’
This intimacy brought to light the complexities of Ford’s work in their intended context, and provided a rich Jacobean flavour to the production. The audience could not help but be challenged by the intricate world which Ford presents, which refuses to reduce itself to simple binaries of good and evil.
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a wonderful theatrical space, and is definitely worth experiencing!

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