'Tis Pity She's A Whore, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe, London. December 2014.
It was a very cold and damp December day when Bec and I went to London to see this, and to be honest after our experiences at the SWP earlier this year we didn't go in with high hopes. The Duchess of Malfi was good, but the seats that time were very uncomfortable, Knight of the Burning Pestle was fun but over long and felt forced by the end and the Young Player's version of The Malcontent was frankly a disappointment and over priced.
This was a different experience entirely, I am not sure if we accidentally picked the best seats in the house or what but we had a good view and missed very little of the action at all and didn't find ourselves wriggling too much to stay comfortable.
The key thing is however that this play was fantastically acted - the space of the theatre was used completely and the scene where all the candles were extinguished was spooky - far more so than in the Duchess of Malfi. I still can't decide if this play was actually bloodier than Titus Andronicus earlier in the year, or if it just seemed so because the playhouse is so much smaller and we were so close to the action. No pies in this production but a bloody heart on a sword was waved around for much of the last act!
The only thing I didn't like about this play was the feeling that I couldn't discern what John Ford was actually trying to say. The Catholic Church certainly came across as corrupt, and sleeping with your sister will drive you insane but I'm note sure beyond that. The way I 'read' the performance Annabella was almost coerced into sleeping with her brother, and that every time she tried to repent he bullied her back into his arms yet why she should be castigated and called a whore is beyond me. Politics of the time I guess. I found it interesting that the audience hissed more as the one anti-Semitic line the play but laughed when the woman was called a whore. Something to think about and investigate further I feel.
I am pleased that we had a good experience at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse finally, and I am pleased that we have got tickets to one more thing there this winter season. I do look forward to their first full Shakespeare in the venue however and without wishing my life away hope that that will be a feature of the 2015/16 season!