This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

28Apr/15

‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE

(photo by Richard Termine)

Annabella (Amelia Pedlow) and Giovanni (Matthew Amendt) share forbidden love in ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE (photo by Richard Termine)

Red Bull Theater
The Duke on 42nd Street
229 West 42nd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday - Saturday through May 16, $60-$80
646-223-3010
www.tispityshesawhore.com
www.dukeon42.org

John Ford doesn’t beat around the bush in his seldom-performed 1630s classic, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, currently being revived by the Red Bull Theater in a glorious new production at the Duke on 42nd Street. The Jacobean drama is a bold, brash, violent, and very funny riff on Romeo and Juliet, but in this case the young lovers just happen to be extremely close siblings. “Shall a peevish sound, / A customary form, from man to man, / Of brother and of sister, be a bar / ’Twixt my perpetual happiness and me?” Giovanni (Matthew Amendt) confesses to Friar Bonaventura (Christopher Innvar), continuing, “Say that we had one father, say one womb / (Curse to my joys!) gave both us life and birth: / Are we not therefore each to other bound / So much the more by nature, by the links / Of blood, of reason (nay, if you will have it, / Even of religion), to be ever one, / One soul, one flesh, one love, one heart, one all?” Prepared to die for his unholy desire, Giovanni is surprised, and delighted, to find out that his sister, Annabella (Amelia Pedlow), feels the same way about him. Meanwhile, a trio of suitors battles for her hand: the nobleman Lord Soranzo (Clifton Duncan), the soldier Grimaldi (Tramell Tillmann), and the over-the-top dandy Bergetto (Ryan Garbayo). Annabella’s trusted and rather bawdy tutoress, Putana (Franchelle Stewart Dorn), thinks the best choice for her lady is Soranzo, explaining, “Commend a man for his qualities, but take a husband as he is a plain, sufficient, naked man: such a one is for your bed, and such a one is Signior Soranzo, my life for’t.” But the scheming, venomous Hippolita (Kelley Curran), Soranzo’s former mistress, is not about to let him go without a fight. Also getting in on all the fun is the Cardinal (Rocco Sisto), who arrives for the wedding feast; Vasques (Derek Smith), Soranzo’s crafty and cunning Spanish servant; and Florio (Philip Goodwin), Annabella and Giovanni’s father, who explains early on, “I would not for my wealth my daughter’s love / Should cause the spilling of one drop of blood.” But alas, there will be blood spilled, and lots o’ it.

(photo by Richard Termine)

Red Bull revival features fab costumes and an elegantly austere set (photo by Richard Termine)

In late 2012, the Red Bull Theater did a splendid job reviving Ben Jonson’s 1606 Renaissance comedy, Volpone, helmed by company artistic director Jesse Berger. Berger is equally adept holding the reins for ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, balancing love and lust, humor and tragedy with a sweetly chaotic grace. David M. Barber’s elegant set features a balcony from which various characters watch the proceedings, in addition to a bed that magically, and ominously, appears through a center doorway. Sara Jean Tosetti’s costumes are an absolute riot, melding early sixteenth-century style with a steampunk sensibility and stiletto heels. The cast is uniformly excellent, having a ball with Ford’s sparkling language, with particular kudos due Pedlow (The Heir Apparent, You Never Can Tell) as the sexy Annabella, Tony nominee Smith (The Green Bird, Sylvia) as the conniving yet realistic Vasques, Garbayo (Loot, Final Analysis) as the flitting Bergetto, and Curran (Angels in America, Henry V) as the “lusty widow,” who proclaims, “How foolishly this beast condemns his fate, / And shuns his former love! But let him go: / My vengeance shall give comfort to his woe.” In this Red Bull revival at the Duke on 42nd Street, there is plenty of lovely vengeance and woe to go around. (The May 3 & 10 matinees will be followed by a discussion with Columbia professors James Shapiro and Jean E. Howard and members of the company. And on May 4 at 7:30 at Playwrights Horizon, the Red Bull Theater will be staging a “Revelation Reading” of Ford’s Love’s Sacrifice with live music.)

Comments (0) Trackbacks (2)

Leave a comment