Women Beware Women
From: Tuesday, 20th April 2010
To: Sunday, 4 July 2010
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A story of the corruption of innocence. Thee young people are seduced by the lies, lust and treachery of the sophisticated players who thrive in the glamorous court of the Duke of Florence. Written in 1623
Michael Coveney - 28 April 2010
The case for Thomas Middleton being our second greatest Jacobean dramatist is brilliantly prosecuted with this murky, magnificent and utterly hypnotic production of Women Beware Women (1621) by Marianne Elliott in the Olivier.
Rarely seen – and not in London since Howard Barker’s mixed-up make-over at the Royal Court in 1986 – the play is a beautifully constructed dance of death and revenge in Renaissance Florence, with the widow Livia pulling the strings in two fantastically unravelling narratives.
First, she engineers the rape and seduction of the newly married Bianca by the preening Duke, while diverting Bianca’s mother-in-law in a game of chess. Second, she indulges her brother Hippolita’s incestuous passion for his own niece, Isabella (who is engaged, against her will, to a stupid rich boy), by convincing Isabella of the justness of her own physical itch.
Harriet Walter as the wicked and witty Livia, attired in b...
Latest User Review
dgr1 - 7 June 2010:
Another crude interpretation by the National (see Melly Still's Revenger's Tragedy for details). Marianne Elliot is becoming predictable: black and silver glittering set - tick red velvet dress / red cardinal - tick cold white backlighting - tick signposted performances - tick any sexual reference accompanied by groin-thrusting - tick Ok, it's a pretty crude play, but we never understand why anyone is doing anything, and the wildly inconsistent set / costume / music design clarifies nothing....