Home » Reviews » Drama » ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Tristan Bates Theatre – Review
Credit: Adam Trigg
Credit: Adam Trigg

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Tristan Bates Theatre – Review

Pros: Compelling performances by the two lead actors of a funny and exciting script.

Cons: Sometimes the direction is a little overcomplicated, which is distracting.

Pros: Compelling performances by the two lead actors of a funny and exciting script. Cons: Sometimes the direction is a little overcomplicated, which is distracting. The Tristan Bates Theatre was new to me and it’s an intimate and friendly venue to see a play (which I hadn't seen before either). I was aware, however, of the theme and of the controversy that's attached to this provocative Jacobean classic, so I was excited to watch the storytelling unfold. Through swirling dry ice we were offered goblets of wine on a silver platter as we entered the rather snug auditorium. The…

Summary

Rating

Good

A classic play with humour and moral intrigue. Some knock out performances from a talented young cast in a modern and surprising production.

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The Tristan Bates Theatre was new to me and it’s an intimate and friendly venue to see a play (which I hadn’t seen before either). I was aware, however, of the theme and of the controversy that’s attached to this provocative Jacobean classic, so I was excited to watch the storytelling unfold.

Through swirling dry ice we were offered goblets of wine on a silver platter as we entered the rather snug auditorium. The smoke, the humidity and the intimate space made for a heady mix already as we entered the dark, traverse stage set up. The whole cast were positioned around a long central table and my heart sank a little as we took our seats. The first piece of action felt like a Duran Duran video, with each character wearing light-rimmed Ray-Ban sunglasses and engaging in a short and intense dance sequence. It kind of worked, but there was a sense of over-modernisation.

After this opening sequence, we went straight into the drama. ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore follows the fate of two star-crossed lovers with a sinful twist: their love is forbidden as they are brother and sister. Much is made of the impact of the content of the play, as it’s stated in the programme that the production’s social media campaign was curtailed due to its ‘offensive nature’. I was expecting to be really shocked, but instead found that, because of the way the lovers’ frustration and passion is portrayed, the play spoke to me in a far broader sense about how certain relationships are perceived and frowned upon. I loved this clever, modernised take on the original text;. it’s clever and subtle, but the message is clear.

Prince Plockey as Giovanni is the driving force of this whole production, and that’s not just because of his pivotal role. His presence as an actor is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed his heart-wrenching performance. Lucy Walker-Evans is enthralling as a sometimes delicate and confused but frequently gutsy Annabella. There’s more than one suitor for Annabella though, and bringing great humour to the play is Luke Dunford as Bergetto. Dunford is a talented comic performer who successfully had me seething with incredulity at Bergetto, a tactless bumbler who, after wooing Annabella with insults, brags that he has won her over.

The atmosphere of the production is charged with passion and collusion, backstabbing and sheer desperation. Each character’s agenda of either sexual desires or financial gain is exciting to see play out, although frequently tragedy ensues. Sometimes the constant presence of the cast on stage works well, and adds to the intrigue and the claustrophobia brought on by the interfering, self-serving family members and hangers on surrounding these breathless lovers. The audience following a very important note being passed between the characters to its intended recipient, for example, is fascinating. However, the repetition of the choreographed groups moving around the outskirts is, at times, too distracting from the actual scenes. Nevertheless, this feisty cast gives a stand out performance of a play that’s deserving of its thought-provoking reputation.

Original Author: John Ford
Directed and Adapted By: Ricky Dukes
Producer: Lazarus Theatre Company
Box Office: 020 3841 6611
Booking Link: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/tis-pity-shes-a-whore
Booking Until: 10 September 2016

About Simone Green

Simone Green
Simone is a trained actress and has worked in the theatre and television. She has also run drama workshops for children. She now teaches in a primary school in East London and enjoys trips to the theatre with her six year old daughter. She is a regular reviewer of children's theatre. She loves comedy, Radio 4 and cake. She doesn't get out much after dark and loves the chance to see as much fabulous theatre as she can.