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'Tis Pity She's A Whore

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow
Three stars

When second year acting students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland performed Romeo and Juliet a couple of weeks ago, it may have been their first introduction to classical tragedy. Seen next to John Ford's seventeenth century gore-fest, however, Shakespeare's play must look pretty prim to the other half of the year's ensemble who perform Ford's masterpiece this week.

The same iron bed is there in Gareth Nicholls' production to help illustrate consummation of the play's doomed young lovers' affair. It starts similarly enough too, with over-exciteable boys sparring and confessing all while the object of their affections preens herself impassively in front of a full-length mirror. The fact that Ford's lead starlets, Giovanni and Annabel, are brother and sister, makes this an infinitely more grown-up affair.

All of Nicholls' eight-strong ensemble grab hold of Ford's taboo-busting tendencies with relish in a production which puts the audience either side of the action. There is some great physical interplay between Sinead Sharkey's governess Putana and Tom England's thrusting Soranzo, with Sharkey climbing astride England while regaling Grace Boyle's Annabel with Sex and the City style intimations as she goes.

Soranzo himself can only absorb romantic poetry while his betrothed romps with Bernardo Castilla Jorge's Giovanni in one of a series of neat counterpoints. There are great visuals too, with Sorenzo's ex, Hippolita, disguising herself at his and Annabel's wedding as an erotic dancer in a terrorist mask. When actors aren't in the thick of things, they sit at one end of the room, observing but never judging as the lovers' fate is sealed with the bloodiest of kisses.

The Herald, January 23rd 2016

ends

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