Drawing: Max Bennett and Fiona Button in Tis Pity She’s a Whore at Shakespeare’s Globe

Tis Pity She's A Whore

Giovanni and Annabella are lovers. They are also brother and sister, the protagonists in John Ford’s 400 year old play about forbidden love.

Tis Pity She’s a Whore was first performed sometime between 1629 and 1633 by Queen Henrietta’s Men at the Cockpit Theatre in London. The title was often changed to Giovanni and Annabella, The Brother and Sister or simply Tis Pity. A recent revival has just completed its season at Shakespeare’s Globe in the intimate, candlelit enclave, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, featuring Max Bennett and Fiona Button as the doomed romantic leads on the path to tragedy.

Critics were unanimous in their praise or Michael Longhurst’s brilliant production which was not always the case with this play until well into the  twentieth century. The play’s treatment of incest made it one of the most controversial works in English literature but is now regarded as a classic. Ford, the major playwright during the reign of Charles I, often dealt with conflicts between individual passion, conscience and society’s laws and morals.

In fact, Transport for London apparently banned posters showing the entwined naked torsos of the siblings, deeming them too racy for tired commuters.

The Globe’s production of this unsettling Renaissance incestuous drama was described as a no-holds-barred interpretation. One reviewer said, “it’s not just the candle flames that are naked.” The Telegraph’s Tim Walker called Max and Fiona’s portrayals, “electrifying”.

 

Drawing: Relatively Speaking at Wyndham’s Theatre

Relatively Speaking001

The first London revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy Relatively Speaking concludes its three month West End run at Wyndham’s Theatre this month.

The Theatre Royal Bath production, directed by Lindsay Posner stars Felicity Kendal, Jonathan Coy, Kara Tointon and Max Bennett.

Described by the Guardian as “two hours of continuous laughter,” this beautifully crafted and charmingly English play was Ayckbourn’s first great West End success, opening at the Duke of York’s in 1967. Its theme of middle class marital misery and the mistaken identity gag became his speciality.

Greg (Bennett) and Ginny (Tointon) only met a month ago, but he has made up his mind that she’s the one for him. She tells him that she’s off for a weekend at her parents. He finds a scribbled address and decides to surprise her and ask her father for his daughter’s hand.

Sheila (Kendal) and Philip (Coy) are enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast interrupted by the two visitors. The only thing – they’re not Ginny’s parents…

All four cast members are a delight, on and off the stage. They happily signed my sketch after Friday night’s performance.