Review of Lazarus Theatre's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore at Tristan Bates

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    Friday, August 26, 2016
    Review by:
    Zoe Duvall

    If you’re looking for a traditional Renaissance play with true period costumes and style then keep looking! The Lazarus Theatre Company production of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore shatters any tradition from John Ford’s 1629 tragedy and in its place creates a brave, humorous and energetic piece that still echoes Ford’s themes of incest and disaster whilst also presenting a modern and heavily stylised adaption.

    Adapting the Tristan Bates Theatre into a traverse stage, set with a table adorned with candlesticks centre stage, provides a constant awareness of the opposing audience members, which the actors uses to their comic advantage. When entering the space it is initially obvious this adaption won’t be conventional as the cast are dressed in modern clothes, sunglasses and a butler greets the audience, offering a select few audience members a glass of red wine. I happened to be one of the lucky few selected… what a great way to start a show! This breaks the fourth wall, a running theme throughout.

    Prince Plovkey shines as Giovanni, bringing passion and charm to a sinister role by delicately portraying a variety of emotions such as love, temper and jealousy in a thoughtful and creative manner. This makes for a very likeable villain. Lucy Walker-Evans offers a doe-eyed innocence to the character of Annabella bringing energy and emotion to her role. The combination of these two young lovers allows for both passion and affection, sharing this with elegance to an adoring audience.

    The audience has to manage a plethora of emotion, from intimate love scenes, making you question the absurdity of incest, to brilliant comic moments that causes genuine bellyaching laughter. In particular Luke Dunford makes the most of the comedy in the role of Bergetto, bringing awkwardly hilarious moments whilst successfully using the audience to bring cathartic release to the somewhat challenging themes of the play. The final moments of the play left me bereft in search for a happy ending. Even Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet leaves the audience with some solace with the end of lifelong feud between the Capulets and Montagues, however Ford certainly does not provide any such relief. The play ends in death, a consequence for the disgrace caused by Anabella and Giovanni’s controversial love. The final scene involves stabbing of a real heart (what I can only assume belonged to a pig) with heavy emotive symmetry that left me numb. The actors don’t let you mourn for long as it finishes with music and dancing, leaving me confused as how to feel.

    It wasn’t perfect, however -- I did trouble with the staging. Despite its perhaps symbolic intent the table seemed to restrict the actors, causing some awkward transitions and movement throughout. I also felt as though the use of physical theatre detracted from the actors and made the action too busy, leaving me confused at times. This is a shame because the acting truly does shine, each actor bringing life to the historic text, gripping me to their every word despite the distracting dancing and unnecessary props. Nonetheless this is just a minor hiccup to a wholly entertaining and thought-provoking piece. If you’re left wanting to explore the piece further the company offer a post-performance debate about the themes on stage and whether the taboo’s still exist. For anyone watching the performance on the 30th August, this would be a great opportunity to indulge in discussion.

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