Season 1 2011 at Malthouse Theatre opens with Marion Pottss own adaptation of John Ford’s Tis Pity She’s a Whore, the great Revenge’s Tragedy of forbidden love which makes Romeo and Juliet feel like Sunday School!

 
This is one of the most notorious and controversial works in English Literature and a play more frequently banned than performed since it was written in 1630.
 
At the beating heart of this sizzling satire of moral treachery lies a pair of forbidden young lovers – brother and sister Annabella and Giovanni. And while Ford conceives for them some of the most audacious scenes of passionate love ever written for the stage, once unbound, their confessions unleash a tumult of vengeance, calumny and slaughter.
 
Squeezed between the end of a golden age and an impending civil war in which all theatre was banned, Ford faced off the anxieties of his times by thrusting familiar characters into ever more fever-pitched situations of personal and moral extremity. Perhaps what is most shocking to us are the uncannily modern insights about a world that feels less and less distant to our own.
 
Potts says she has long wanted to explore the themes of religious skepticism, incestuous love, and revenge and agrees it is something different for the company after six years under Kantor. ‘Tis a Pity tackles the most taboo of subjects: the incestuous love of a brother and sister. Sure to be an eyebrow-raiser even for the most jaded of contemporary audiences!
Just as Ford’s plays responded to the dramatic challenges of audiences weaned on the savagery of Shakespeare and his contemporaries by heightening theatrical drama to a fevered pitch, so too will Potts reimaging this iconic play as an astonishing comment on our times.
 
"There are few themes left in theatre that guarantee a visceral attack on an audience," says Potts. "Ford’s play tackles the most taboo of subjects – the incestuous love of a brother and sister. It’s a romance but a romance with a bit of a twist in that the young couple that we meet are brother and sister."
 
Beautiful young Annabella (Elizabeth Nabben) has three suitors, but none compare to her elder brother Giovanni (Benedict Samuel). When these two star-cross’d siblings dare to requite each other’s love, they forge a dangerous and youthful revolt that tests the boundaries of what can be said, what to believe and who you can love.
 
”The play is extremely confronting and still little done,” she says. ”It’s extraordinary this piece was written 400 years ago with such daring material as the love affair between brother and sister. It’s about, I guess, moral relativism and that’s a theme I’ve been exploring in a number of works over the last few years. Where do we position our moral boundaries; how elastic are they; when, for example, is it okay to fuck your brother?"
 
Potts says it presents an aggressive, male-dominated world that still causes ongoing tension today. She is adapting it with the creative team that includes composer Andree Greenwell, who worked with her on the acclaimed 2008 adaptation of Venus and Adonis for Bell Shakespeare.
 
”The music will have strong baroque elements bedded into contemporary sounds – harpsichord meets the laptop.”
 
Tis A pity She’s A Whore is a heady tale of lust, power and revenge – and can’t end without passions erupting and a significant body count. This, the first Malthouse Theatre production for 2011, will be one of its most unforgettable.
VENUE: Merlyn Theatre, The Cub Malthouse, 113 Sturt St., Southbank. Vic 3006
SEASON: 11 Feb – 5 March.
BOOKING INFO: WWW.MALTHOUSETHEATRE.COM.AU / 03 9685 5111
TICKET PRICES: $21 – $55 + MIN BOOKING FEE $1.50

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