Sunday, January 29, 2017


Shakespeare's Globe at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

An early look at the penultimate show in this winter's Playhouse Wonder Noir season.

Annie Ryan gives this dark tragedy a duly dark production. The total blackout at the start is barely troubled by single candles as the protagonists gather. The stage, strewn with corpses at the close, seems to be stained black.
Webster's tale of hypocrisy, seduction and revenge is played out in a vaguely dystopian setting, with Jamie Vartan's stylish costumes suggesting the 19th century, as does the mechanism for the conjuror's “spectacles of glass”.  
Ryan fields a strong cast, including Garry Cooper as the Cardinal and Fergal McElherron in a clever double as Camillo and the banished Lodovico. Jamie Ballard is Brachiano, Joseph Timms [lately Sebastian and Lucentio] a laddish Flaminio, Mercy Ojelade Isabella (and Gasparo), Kate Stanley-Brennan Vittoria, and Anna Healey a strong Cornelia.
Tom Lane's music – cello, accordion, fiddle, trumpet, dulcimer – is very effective; an even fuller score would not have come amiss, perhaps.
All a far cry from the RSC's strange disco production of 2014, with its female Flaminio. And much closer to Webster's own vision, I would think, first staged, not too successfully, at the Red Bull on a dismal winter's day in 1612.
The White Devil is at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until April 16.

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