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1994buttonhole

'This modern dress production featured a set which kept the Duke's collection of erotic art permanently in front of the audience, stressing the sleaziness of the corrupt society whose death throes we were witnessing. This society was always going to prove fatal tot he innocent, black Bianca (Noma Dumezweni).

Bianca's status as outsider, as black woman in a white culture, was further stressed by her costume which was strongly evocative of central African cultures. [Her] class was also emphasised by stage business, such as Bianca's refusing to help the widow with the washing up. And when she was seduced by the Duke (this Bianca wa snot raped), there was a strong sense of Bianca's return home in terms of class.

By contrast, Leantio (Gregor Singleton) had and East End accent and was always out of his depth with the Machiavellian upper classes, particularly in the duel [...] stronger than Hippolito physically [he] was almost able to play with his opponent until Hippolito simply pulled a gun and shot him.

The production moved at a rattling pace and featured a smarmy, "Italiante" Duke (Paul Aves), and forceful and passionate Livia (Sally Mortemore), and an Isabella (Adrienne O'Sullivan) whose humiliation when examined physically by the Ward (Guy Burgess) was excruciating.

The ending of the play was extremely hammed up [...] The small venue meant that some of the ending had to be adapted -- Juno couldn't descend [...], there was no trapdoor to fall into, so Guardiano got knocked on the head instead. Isabella was throttled by Livia/Juno.'

Elizabeth Schafer, RORD 34 (1995), 139