I am writing to you with regard to Elizabeth Freestone’s production of Webster’s ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ at London’s Greenwich Theatre. I’m in complete wonderment. Freestone has captured the evil macabre of this tragic play flawlessly, from cast to costume. It is tasteful and intense - a most interesting and fascinating interpretation on Freestone who has set the production in 1930’s Europe on the verge of war, which is tense, gritty and realistic.
Neil Irish’s set design really made the production what it is. The space was used with complete confidence, creating a very dynamic and haunting atmosphere in the theatre and consistently throughout the production. The black and white tiled flooring and minimal furnishings were worked perfectly; the simplicity of the set emphasises the complexity of the play which is brilliantly pursued in Freestone’s production. Lighting was beautifully operated. In the Duchess’ imprisonment, the lights are used to full advantage in illuminating her hanging family. This scene is made more traumatic and almost intentionally uncomfortable by Wayne Dowdeswell’s brilliant illuminations.
The casting for this production could not have been better: Aislin McGuckin’s Duchess is a complicated and upright figure who has a commanding presence on the stage. She is engaging and sensual yet transitions from love to ruin with the most dignity and honour. She is defiant in the confrontation with her brother Ferdinand, embodied by Tim Steed, who is a delight to watch in his skilful ‘turbulent nature’ as Ferdinand. For me, Tim Trelor’s Bosola really stole the show. Bosola was the personification of anger and was a truly troubling presence on the stage. Trelor diverts all attention on the stage; his distinctive voice and looks make him memorable, and he becomes almost the…