‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE To 30 October.

Liverpool.

‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE
by John Ford.

Everyman Theatre 13 Hope Street L1 9BH In rep to 30 October 2010.
7.30pm 4, 5, 9, 13, 14, 19, 22, 27, 28 Oct.
1.30pm 6, 20 Oct.
2pm 16, 30 Oct.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 0151 709 4776.
www.everymanplayhouse.com
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 October.

X-rated Caroline shocker in lively revival.
You can almost hear them sighing over their ale and quartern-loaves circa 1630, reading the reviews of John Ford’s new tragedy in Ye Daily Puritan. “What next? Sex and murder not enough for these playwrights? Listen to this, incest. Then the brother kills the sister he’s made pregnant. Brings her heart in on a knife. They actually show it. It’s sick. What’s happening these days?”

Still, at least you could get the staff then. Spanish servant Vasquez is proud to outdo any Italian, being ultra-loyal to his master Soranzo – decent-seeming suitor to Annabella, the incestuous sister. But Hippolita, the woman he ditches, knows another side to this Mr Respectability.

Cutting the play to focus on its main story, director Chris Meads updates it to that home-from-home decade for any story requiring conventional morality, the 1950s. The shrine to his deceased, perfect wife in the home of middle-class father Florio, (who remains complacently unaware of his teenage off-springs’ liaison even as he encourages the respectable, suited – and so suitable – Soranzo) may seem natural enough in a theatre situated between two cathedrals, though the advent of a cardinal and friar for the disastrous dénouement is less explicable.

Ford’s Italian background’s mentioned but hardly goes beyond character names. Indeed, playing Spanish Vasquez as Irish suggests an English setting. And the youthful siblings, nervous but eager as they admit their mutual passion, could be home from any English university.

Yet the pace, clarity and emotional honesty of this production are what matters. Designer Ashley Shairp provides a stage-wide space, making Florio’s domestic conventionality seem diminished within a broader world, while a central pit is the place of passionate sex and, later, violent assault: disorder beneath Florio’s nose.

Paul McCleary seamlessly combines verse structure with realistic phrasing, while Stuart Richman provides authoritative admonition in Ford’s closing judgement and added biblical lines on women’s subjugation at the start. Hugh Skinner, finally entering with Annabella’s heart clutched to his own, and, particularly, Matti Houghton, are likeable and lively. But they have no hope; the smart-suited and their enforcers, the loud voice of the Establishment, will destroy them

Vasquez: Ken Bradshaw.
Friar Bonaventura: Kevin Harvey.
Annabella: Matti Houghton.
Florio: Paul McCleary.
Putana: Eileen O’Brien.
Hippolita: Emily Pithon.
Cardinal: Stuart Richman.
Soranzo: Nicholas Shaw.
Giovanni: Hugh Skinner.

Director: Chris Meads.
Designer: Ashley Shairp.
Lighting: Ben Pacey.
Sound: Matt Angove.
Composer: Heather Fenoughty.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant designer: Nina Patel-Grainger.
Assistant sound: Andrew Thomson.

2010-10-04 17:18:23

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection