Review: The Duchess of Malfi

ImageWritten for Time Out

As their last show at the Greenwich Playhouse, ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ is a poignant swansong for producer/director team Alice de Sousa and Bruce Jamieson. But this self-indulgent production will frustrate and irritate everyone else.

In Webster’s Jacobean drama, the Duchess chooses to marry her male secretary, Antonio. Marriage was power back then and her controlling brothers are not best pleased. De Sousa, who also plays the lead, is feisty, but Jamieson’s bizarrely sadomasochistic production is clearly a smoke screen for something else.

Bubbling beneath John Webster’s tale of incest and bloodshed is a more modern tale of woe; and it’s not that of Malfi and her Antonio. A landlord is kicking the company out, and Galleon Theatre is taking no prisoners.

It’s a funny way to go. Webster’s play is full of passion and female fury but Jamieson has manhandled it into a vulgar stage show of presentational misogyny. Gimps act as manservants and there’s too much pained Christian cumming. It is a muddled and wearisome end to a fringe institution.

Runs until 18th March 2012

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