FRINGE REVIEW – ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, C plaza

*****

22-30 Aug, 1245 (1415) @ C plaza, George Square Theatre

By Danielle Farrow

This adaptation of John Ford’s tragedy focuses on the main storyline: the incestuous relationship of brother Giovanni, and sister Annabella, her pregnancy and masking marriage, and the bloody results. This cuts out a lot of other characters and does seem to affect clarity of motivation for some of those left, but it also makes for a clear plotline.
 
Ford’s obvious strength is in his poetry and Sam Wood as Giovanni commits himself to the beauty and passion of this language. He is somewhat stronger in loving than in anger, but rises to the grand dénouement. He is not, however, matched by the other actors. The lines are run through at such a pace that, while one may admire the players for their vocal dexterity, the meaning and feeling of what is said is often galloped over, and philosophical / religious reasonings – another of Ford’s skills – are lost. Annabella and the Friar warmed into their passions, and the one playing the tutoress Putana was very clear in all she, as an actress, wanted to express, but even so, these three joined the rest in there being little of truth embodied in the characters presented – voices tried to convey everything without the physical openness that is necessary to support such passions and make them believable.
 
This said, the acting overall was competent, lifted at times where emotions did ring true, and the adaptation and direction allowed the story to be very clear – an achievement with a 17th century play. Lighting and projections assisted in setting scene and atmosphere, though some photographs were rather modern for the setting of 1600s, and sound did likewise, supporting emotion as well. Different stage levels were put to good use, the stage combat was reasonable, and the story, along with its subject matter, well handled in terms of pace and clarity, with a certain sensuality where warranted.
 
This adaptation of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore is well produced and deserves credit for what it brings to Ford’s play: clarity of plot, an impassioned, attractive protagonist, a beautiful heroine (hard to believe any of it otherwise), and a certain elegant style. The quality of the acting is not quite as expected given programme notes, but this is an accomplished piece, worth seeing.

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