The theatre has always been a passion of mine, I love how well the actors and the play can take me away, and introduce me to, a new world. The world of John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, brought brilliantly on stage by Jamie Lloyd, is set in 17th century Italy. The play tells the story of the recently widowed Duchess who secretly marries, the attractive but unacceptable, Antonio despite the oppression placed on her by her brothers. Furthermore the play is concerned by the inner struggle of Bosola, who must undertake many horrendous tasks at the hands of the Duchess’s two brothers.
Eve Best plays the Duchess was such vigour and passion that I found it difficult to take my eyes off her, whilst Mark Bonnar’s Bosola has an incredibly crafted persona, riddled with guilt and fear. Harry Lloyd’s Ferdinand is calculative, waiting for the right moment to strike against his sister. In fact, the whole cast (including the little boy playing the duchess’s eldest son) should be congratulated for this moving retelling of Webster’s tragedy.
The set is grand and beautiful, a wooden structure of stairs and bridges. And yet during the play it appeared to outcast characters whenever it was called for. The lighting used was able to change the scenery from warm to hostile with such ease that it felt like we were moving from one place to another, rather than watching the stage. Furthermore, the direction of the actors, ie where they stood whilst speaking, was actually rather interesting. When characters were more significant to a scene they stood higher to those they were talking to , thus credit needs to be given to Jamie Lloyd once more. What I also found interesting was the fact that Best’s Duchess always wore white, proving her innocence throughout.
I began this review explaining my love for the theatre thanks to its capability of taking me to other places. I can say for sure that The Duchess of Malfi was one of the best and incredibly moving pieces I have seen on stage. I highly recommend it to everyone.
The cast includes Madeline Appiah, Harry Attwell, Tom Bateman, Eve Best, Mark Bonnar, Adam Burton, Vyelle Croom, Lucy Eaton, Taylor James, Tunji Kasim, Harry Lloyd, Finbar Lynch, Nari Blair Mangat, Iris Roberts, Alan Westaway and Freddie Anness-Lorenz, Alexander Aze, Max Furst.
The Duchess of Malfi is at the Old Vic Theatre until June 9th
Written by Roxy Simons.