31 March 2012

The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster

Cariola - Madeline Appiah
Pescara - Harry Attwell
Antonia - Tom Bateman
The Duchess of Malfi - Eve Best
Bosola - Mark Bonnar
Sylvio - Adam Burton
Malateste- Vyelle Croom
Livia - Lucy Eaton
Grisolan - Taylor James
Delio - Tunji Kasim
Ferdinand - Harry Lloyd
Cardinal - Finbar Lynch
Roderigo - Nari Blair Mangat
Julia - Iris Roberts
Castruccio/DoctorAlan Westaway
Son - Freddie Anness-Lorenz/Alexander Aze/Max Furst

Director Jamie Lloyd, Designer Soutra Gilmour
Seen for absolutely free in a reasonable stall seat at the Old Vic towards the start of the run.

I couldn't pass up the chance to see Eve Best in this role when it would cost the price of the journey to the theatre and my inevitable desire for a programme, however Anastasia Hille's icey Duchess opposite the young Matthew Macfadyen's smouldering Anotonia with Nick & Declan's checkerboard staging was always going to take some beating.

One might presume I came to this with uneven expectations, and considering that, I thought this was, in the most part, an exhilarating production. The staging was atmospheric and majestic and I'd love to raid the skip when that flooring is struck.

Eve Best's Duchess had an unexpected warmth and compassion but I found Antonio a little bland. The Cardinal, Ferdinand and Delio were wonderful.

Given the age of this text, it translates to a gloriously evil tale that hold the audience. The staging of the tricky bits was very well handled.

There were many empty seats in the circle so I snuck up there for the second half, escaping fellow freebie seaters who had too little respect for their full-price paying neighbours' comfort and enjoyment.

Here's a nice piece from Mark Lawson about 'breaking a leg'.