THEATER REVIEW: ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

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Even for the modern desensitized audience, the incest within John Ford’s play ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore still has some shock value and when you sprinkle in a generous amount of blood, guts, violence, and a half cup of humor it makes for a pretty memorable theatrical experience. The current adaptation by director Jonathan Barsness and the Toy Box Theatre Company at the Teatro Iati on 4th Street in the Village is a must see performance which beautifully blends sex, humor, violence, and even rock music into a sublime viewing experience.

The work itself is famed for being shunned, altered, and outright banned through the years but it was John Ford’s attempt to raise the bar at the tail end of the Renaissance. After all, how do you top William Shakespeare? His answer was to take your star-crossed young lovers and make them brother and sister. This particular reworking of the piece cuts a subplot and some characters in order to add music courtesy of Brooklyn’s own Colonna Sonora, a worthwhile edit which adds a wonderful immediacy and modernity to the performance but it does have it’s consequences as some elements of the plot become a bit confusing at times.

The heart of the piece stays intact (at least until the final scene that is) and the cast pull whatever loose ends there may be together with their outstanding performances. Most notable are Jessica Rothenberg as Annabella, the central figure, who brilliantly plays the transformation from naïve young girl to a tortured, guilt-ridden woman and Michael Nathanson as Bergetto who infuses every scene he’s in with hearty laughter and physicality. The cast of nine really do help transform the small stage and minimal dressings into a moving and passionate work of art even though there are some inconsistencies. The biggest issue outside the plot confusion is Andrew Krug’s performance as the brother, Giovanni, because while he does make the difficult language accessible, somehow he doesn’t seem to exist on the same dimension as his female counterpart and their relationship never quite gels as it should.

Overall, it’s a performance you’ll not want to miss so be sure to grab some of the few remaining tickets as the play runs through October 16, it’s well worth it.

For more information including the schedule and how to purchase tickets, visit the website HERE

Tim Needles

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