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'The Changeling'

Jacobean tragedy at its most lurid, tightly wound, and unforgiving, Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's 1622 play is a blood-spattered horror show of diseased sexual alliances, multiple betrayals, and murder, as unswerving in its lockstep toward doom as any cutthroat noir. But you wouldn't know it from this dull adaptation, which delivers all the cinematic panache of Ye Olde Public Access. Looking more cheap than stylized, the movie shouldn't lack for zesty intrigue—not with noblewoman Beatrice-Joanna (Wendy Herlich) scheming to do away with her suitor, only to wind up bound in kinky duplicity to a lustful servant (Clyde Baldo). But Jay Stern's direction is reticent where it should be nervy, and the chemistry-free cast of mostly New York stage actors appears to have been chosen for its discomfort with dialogue such as "Come hither!" and "Get thee from me!" Ye have been warned.


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