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The Duchess (of Malfi)

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh Five stars
“Men will come with open faces and say anything to get inside your knickers,” says a jealous Ferdinand to the lady in red who just found her voice at the microphone in Zinnie Harris’ reimagining of John Webster’s seventeenth century revenge tragedy. The fact that the woman is the angry little man-let’s sister gives his voice an edge that lays bare a desperate attempt to stamp out her autonomy and a terror of the lust for life she’s embraced.
All of Webster’s original plot is pretty much present and correct here, with Kirsty Stuart’s Duchess caught up in a man’s world, where, beyond her damaged siblings, her new beau Antonio has imposter syndrome, while Adam Best’s killer Bosola has serious guilt issues.
Harris’ own production for the Lyceum and Citizens theatres gives the play’s tale of a liberated woman being brutalised out of existence an extra contemporary kick. This is done in part through a use of language which undercuts its classicist ste…
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