Skip to main content

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 steel with the phlegmatically modern rage of Ferdinand and the Duchess’ other brother, George Costigan’s abusive Cardinal.

It is done too on Tom Piper’s off-white minimalist set with devastating little moments, like when Leah Walker’s abused Julia teams up with Duchess and her maid Cariola, played by Fletcher Mathers, to form a 1960s style girl group. Oguz Kaplangi’s electric guitar score is played live by Eleanor Kane, before deathly chorales are choreographed by Kally Lloyd-Jones.

The torture scenes are as slickly stylised as a Netflix cartoon superhero show, with Jamie Macdonald’s video projections resembling a cut-up newsreel. Things take a lurch into the fantastical mid-way through the second half when the dead refuse to lie down, haunting the men who slaughtered them and watching as they destroy each other. All of this is lent gravitas by an assured and stately pace as the power is claimed back in a bloody and brilliant piece of work.

The Herald, May 22nd 2019

ends 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug