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1999loosecanon

'Modern dress, minimal scenery and a text cut to two hours of performing time placed the focus clearly on language and characterisation. The fast pace made for exhilarating viewing while the cutting neatly shaped the first half (up to the trial scene) to reveal Brachiano as the cool manipulator of other people's lives, while the second showed how infinitely subtler Francisco was a lethal controller of events.

Necessary doubling within a small cast required a man to play both Camillo and Cornelia, a womanish man and a strong-voiced, morally forthright woman. [...] gender issues raised by the play [threw] into sharp contrast the figures of Vitoria and Isabella. The latter became a rapidly jettisoned pawn in Brachiano's games precisely because she was honest to her feelings and trusted in her marriage vow; the former [played by Natalie Stringer] had undeniably the most brilliant intelligence in this vicious political world, yet not one ever recognised her true worth [...].

Though the production negotiated the Machiavellian political and sexual intricacies of the first four acts with a rare precision (the plotting was crystal-clear and there was still time in the rush of events to savour the way Webster's language intimates the ethical complexities of his characters), the director seemed to lose confidence or creative stamina when it came to the death scenes, where Webster moves the action steadily into a metaphysical dimension.'

Richard Allen Cave, RORD 39 (2000), 174-5