Review: The White Devil, University Drama Studio

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SuTCo’s latest offering is based on murderous events in Italy, 30 years prior to the 17th century play.

The revenge tragedy’s verse is hard to follow and the first half is plodding.

Luckily the pace quickens a little in the second half and there is plenty of action and gore for the more bloodthirsty punters.

At times I wonder if English author John Webster read Shakespeare’s Hamlet and thought, “I can do that”. Switch the action from Denmark to Italy and throw in a couple of ghosts of recently slain Isabella and Duke of Brachiano, using poison as the main weapon.

Webster’s penmanship aside, as always with SuTCo, the play is impeccably acted. In particular, Alex McArdle puts in an astonishing performance as Vittoria. Much more than a femme fatale, McArdle’s character intelligently battles sexist judges and jealous lovers and nearly wins the day.

Alfred Reynolds is the red blooded, married Duke of Brachiano who is seduced by Vittoria’s charms.

He is unlucky to have the unintentionally funny and crass line, “never will I think thee dead until I can play football with thy head”.

Nathaniel Kershaw as Duke Francisco fares better with the dramatic line before he vanquishes his enemy, “the last good deed he did he pardoned murder”.

Tom Brindley plays Flamineo with such flamboyant campness that one can almost forgive his double crossing murderous ways.

Thalia Caddy directs this mildly diverting historical account.

Webster explores some important themes and even implies some interesting subtext.

But the Bard, he ain’t.