(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/20.)

After a spate of concept-driven classic revivals, this production of John Ford’s 1633 incest drama falls like manna from heaven. Even in this intimate, candlelit space you can appreciate that the play has been visibly directed by Michael Longhurst: at the same time, everything is driven by a desire to illuminate Ford’s text rather than exhibit the director’s ego.

Longhurst’s prime achievement is to preserve a balance between the incestuous siblings and the hypocritical society that surrounds them: he neither sentimentalises the lovers nor overdoes the Italianate corruption. He also makes a crucial distinction between the disingenuous Giovanni, who falsely claims the church has sanctioned sex with his sister, and his spirited sibling, Annabella, who simply follows the promptings of her heart. With comparable subtlety, Longhurst shows that not all clerics are cut from the same cloth. A papal nuncio is a murder-sanctioning brute, while there is a genuine moral urgency to the humble friar who conjures up a vision of hell – where “damned souls roar without pity” – that reminds one of Dante’s Inferno.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/oct/29/tis-pity-shes-a-whore-review-sam-wanamaker-playhouse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.