The Union Theatre's latest is the first professional production of 'lost Shakespeare' Double Falsehood since 1792. The story of Duke's son Henrique, who rapes his paramour Violante and then tries to steal his friend Julio's fiancee Leonora, we see Violante pursue Henrique for a marriage that will restore her honour, while Julio becomes mad over the supposed loss of his loved one. This is not your typical Shakespearian fare – which causes many to doubt the veracity of its authorship, and makes it a hard watch in places.
As Violante, recent graduate Jessie Lilley is particularly enjoyable. Although her violation by the disturbed Henrique (Adam Redmore) seemed rather laboured, through the rest of the play she impresses with her demeanour and singular focus, as well as the unusual but inspired choice of a Liverpudlian accent.
Gabriel Vick shows great versatility as the betrayed Julio. Besides making the verse understandable – something absolutely imperative when watching Shakespeare – his centred, consistent and sympathetic portrayal is a real highlight. Emily Plumtree also impresses with her emotive portrayal of Leonora, tugged every which way by overbearing mother (an enjoyable Su Douglas) and unwanted partner alike.
While Sam Hoare is a sweet, gentle presence as Roderick, he often rushes his lines, making him difficult to understand. This is also a problem at times for Redmore, who struggled to find truth in his portrayal of the mentally ill Henrique, utilising a few too many manic laughs and head flicks to symbolise personality changes.
It is to director Phil Wilmott's credit that he manages to pull an interesting, intriguing and worthwhile evening from this most peculiar fare. He makes strong use of the space in the intimate Union and has cast well. This could be another hot ticket for the Union.