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The Duchess of Malfi
a Play with Music
by John Webster

COMPANY : Resurgens Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4780

SHOWING : September 30, 2015 - October 04, 2015



Cruelly oppressed by her nefarious brothers, the widowed Duchess of Malfi seeks love in a world dripping with bloodlust and illicit desire. Dismembered bodies, werewolves, and a toxic Bible—experience them all through the soaring poetry and searing passions of Webster’s tragedy of horrors. Dr. Brent Griffin returns to direct this macabre masterpiece, once again employing his own cutting-edge editorial techniques for this “original practices” production.

Fight Choreographer Matt Felten
Director Brent Griffin
Choreographer Olivia Sloan
Music Director/Composer Olivia Sloan
Cariola Janine DeMichele Baggett
Mad Folk Alana Cheshire
Duchess of Malfi Laura Cole
Cardinal Bryan Davis
Ferdinand Thom Gillott
Bosola Brent Griffin
Delio Trey Harrison
Mad Folk Courtney Loner
Antonio Stuart McDaniel
Julia/Mad Folk Olivia Sloan
Doctor/Servant/Executioner Jim Wall
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Slowly Mounting Horror
by playgoer
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
John Webster’s "The Duchess of Malfi" tells the tale of a headstrong young widow who marries her steward, and of the revenge exacted on her by her controlling brothers (a duke and a cardinal). In Resurgens’ production, the action starts with an eerie trio of madwomen singers who periodically appear throughout the action, adding a spooky air to a dark tale.

Resurgens’ production has full Jacobean dress and, in original practice style, no lighting effects. The choice not to have an intermission in the two-hour-long play is also attributed to original practice. A couple of concessions to modern theatre-going tastes would aid the production. The choice to use unabashedly American accents is one concession; modern haircuts is another; mood lighting and a break mid-way in the action would not adversely affect the mood the play creates.

Performances are good all around, with no particular standouts. Laura Cole plays the title character, but her role peters out to spectral echoes by the end of the show. Bryan Davis, who plays the cardinal who is her brother, lacks the enunciation and projection of most of the rest of the cast, lessening the impact of his role. The strongest performances come from Thom Gillott, as the duchess’ twin, and from Brent Griffin, complicit in most of the deaths that populate the stage with dead bodies by the end.

"The Duchess of Malfi" has its share of gore and murders, but they take a while showing up. The first half of the show is a slow build-up to the first murder. The end of the play piles murder upon murder, littering the stage with body after body. It’s an effective slow build, made particularly effective by the sweet harmonies and dissonances of the madwomen raising their voices in song to weave the spell inherent in John Webster’s words. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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