A new production of the classic play has just opened in north London, directed by the former Goldsmiths student and Olivier Award Winner, Rebecca Frecknall.
WhatsOnStage said : It’s exciting to see a director pushing away from their old form and Frecknall directs this nearly three-hour show at a rollicking pace – rattling through with a title card flashing up at the beginning of each scene – ‘A Birth’, ‘A Trap’, ‘A Banishment’.
The Duchess of Malfi (originally published as The Tragedy of the Dutchesse of Malfy) is a Jacobean revenge tragedy about resistance, rage and a deadly lust for power.
First performed to a private audience back in 1613 at the Blackfriars Theatre, it was only published 10 later in 1623.
The play is loosely based on events which occurred between 1508 and 1513.
When the Duchess falls in love with her steward Antonio, her corrupt brothers embark on a chilling plot to destroy her marriage, power and agency.
What begins as a jealous plan to extinguish her love becomes a bloodthirsty quest to extinguish her life.
Lydia Wilson plays the Duchess, following her Olivier Award-nominated performance in King Charles III.
The reviews concerning her performance are overwhelmingly positive. Time Out have described her performance as ‘phenomenal’.
While WhatsOnStage said, Lydia Wilson tantalisingly plays the titular Duchess in a radically different way… It’s a cooler, colder iteration of the character that has some engrossing moments – a monologue about salmon in a stream is riveting, while the way she inspects her own noose makes for a brilliant ten lines of theatre.
The Evening Standard has described her performance as ‘extraordinarily haunting‘.
Whilst The Guardian said: ‘Lydia Wilson is riveting as the strong-willed duchess in Rebecca Frecknall’s arresting update’.
Members of the public have also been sharing their views of this new production:
John Webster’s electrifying bloody revenge tragedy is on stage at Almeida Theatre in Islington until January 25.
Inside Rehearsals… The Duchess Of Malfi.