Theater

You’ll Never Guess Where ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore Wears Its Heart

by

Gray, Tudor-timbered, and imposingly featureless, the two-story set of Red Bull Theater’s latest Jacobean revival can’t help but suggest the slablike expanse the Royal Shakespeare Company whipped up nine blocks north for Wolf Hall. The key difference: Here it frames the impassioned messiness of the heart — and, eventually, a spitted heart itself — rather than the political machinations such messiness demands. ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore is more mad, more mysterious, more upsetting, and — odd, for a 400-year-old play — less familiar. The carnage here can sicken, but not because director Jesse Berger’s violence is gratuitous. Instead, it’s hard not to be shaken by the play’s climactic justice, which proves more perverse than the brother-sister love crime that incites the tragedy.

Berger and his cast keep the convolutions — incest, murder, disguises, betrothals — clear and compelling, but the punishments the play’s women face for infidelity are (fortunately) tough for us to empathize with today. Derek Smith triumphs as sly servant Vasques, whose woman-punishing makes him something of a one-man Gamergate. Otherwise, the women carry the day, especially Amelia Pedlow as a sister caught in the bliss/torture of an affair with her own brother (Matthew Amendt), and the charismatic Kelley Curran as an unfaithful wife
triply betrayed. Packed into the lingerie
formalwear of Prince’s band circa 1985,
she rages fire like the southern end of a northbound dragster.

Most Popular