As their last show at the Greenwich Playhouse, 'The Duchess of Malfi' is a poignant swansong for producer/director team Alice de Sousa and Bruce Jamieson. But this self-indulgent production will frustrate and irritate everyone else.
In Webster's Jacobean drama, the Duchess chooses to marry her male secretary, Antonio. Marriage was power back then and her controlling brothers are not best pleased. De Sousa, who also plays the lead, is feisty, but Jamieson's bizarrely sadomasochistic production is clearly a smoke screen for something else.
Bubbling beneath John Webster's tale of incest and bloodshed is a more modern tale of woe; and it's not that of Malfi and her Antonio. A landlord is kicking the company out, and Galleon Theatre is taking no prisoners.
It's a funny way to go. Webster's play is full of passion and female fury but Jamieson has manhandled it into a vulgar stage show of presentational misogyny. Gimps act as manservants and there's too much pained Christian cumming. It is a muddled and wearisome end to a fringe institution.
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5 / 5
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I very much enjoyed the way the company brought this rather tired play up to date by giving it a modern yet style driven look. I have always considered it a problem play in that little motive exists for the main characters actions but I think the cutting and dynamic approach here helped a great deal. The scenes involving the inprisoned Duchess are the best I have ever seen them performed. Following these with a comic turn involving the mad Ferdinand oddly worked as I usually find the play can never recover after Act4. Good performances all round, but great ones from Alice De Sousa, Damian Quinn, Bruce Jamieson and Robin Holden. The Cardinals Men leave a memorable mark. Well worth a visit and I hope not the end for this company but hopefully the bar which is ghastly.
At 2 hours the pace is well kept in this production and knowing the text well, the director has done a fine cut. The cast are very good indeed and unlike most productions you see of this great play even the supporting roles are well cast, vivid and memorable. The Cardinals men are a real bonus .Alice DeSousa, Bruce Jamieson and Darren Stamford are terrific. I did enjoy the turn that this production gave to Delio, played by Alexander Neal, which is the part I played many moons ago. They have made a role, usually neglected into a really intersting one. Damian Quinn's Bosola was a little one-dimensional but a good memorable Doctor (another usually forgotten role) was splendid in the hands of Barry Clarke. This is going to be the last performance until the company move to a new home, so I wish them luck and will hope to see them perform again soon. They will be better off outwith the awful pub downstairs anyway. Top notch for the theatre and play - bottom of the barrel for the pub. *****
A gripping and excelently acted play, full of drama and realisically acted and frightening murder scenes. Robin Holden as the unhinged Ferdinand was outstanding. All the cast were brilliant. I'm going again!
Trust 'Time Out' and a woman to find themselves getting a bit squeemish. This is a good telling of a tale that is about bloody murder and hate. What are you supposed to do with Jacobean revenge plays. This is good stuff with fine performances. I bet when you get down to the Old Vic you will be hanging around kissing butt (Oh No We Dont Do Things Like That!!) Yeah, - I bet you do.