‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

by John Fordpitylogo

Baseless Fabric Company

Directed by Joana Turner

Designed by Katherine Webb

at White Bear Theatre

138 Kennington Park Rd, Lon 4DJdon SE11

Call + 44 20 (0) 7793 9193 Tickets £10 – £12

Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm; Sunday 5pm

Running time 2 hours with intermission

Through August, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out, Brother

The night revels in multiple murders, betrayals, gory dealings in general, and at its heart the forbidden sin of carnal love between brother and sister. John Ford’s famous and best known work is irresistible enough for there to be periodic productions around town, and it remains for each to stamp its identity on the great play.

With its trademark precision and clarity, Director Joanna Turner’s Baseless Fabric Company gives the narrative an inexorable style that echoes the tale itself, confidently balancing fluent energy with the complexities of the story. The protagonists’ drive toward their fates through an assortment of causes – revenge, jealousy, stupidity, hypocrisy, an uncontrollable libido, or any combination of the commandments and deadly sins has something for everyone.

Thrust into your hand as you go in is a heart shaped chocolate in blood red wrapping. You suspect that eating it will bring pleasure tinged with guilt, and it does. The stage design in the absolutes of the same blood red and gleaming white tells you there are going to be no frills, but the casual modern costuming does look a little charity shop bought, and sometimes a little bizarre.

The self destruction inevitable in the motives and intrigues of all the players is constantly entertaining, and the comic relief of the Bergetto/Poggio scenes is fun to watch. Within this the attacking speed of the treatment sits precariously on the bridge between the aristocratic and the everyday, the period language and modern rhythms, the lyrical and the prosaic. The company, young in their energy and daring, grasp the dialogue sometimes to great effect, sometimes careless of complexity, wanting a nuanced subtlety.

In an evening of the sort of committed performances Miss Turner demands and receives, there are heart breaking moments  of love and ecstatic pain from Siobhan McMillan as the doomed Annabella. The thrilling power of her churning emotional depth and the musical resonances of her passionate innocence are satisfying waves that wash over one. The call for this beautiful young actress from the main stages is surely only a heartbeat away.

Recommended

Saul Reichlin

London correspondent

www.ChicagoCritic.com