Loves’s Sacrifice, the power of unrequited love

RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 11th April – 24th June, 2015

As with many other renaissance plays, at first sight, the plot of this rarely performed play by John Ford looks a bit far-fetched.
A recently married Duke whose best friend is in love with the Duke’s young wife, the Duke’s widowed sister who fancies the best friend who…
A courtier who fancies the widow who fancies… A womanizer who gets two ladies in waiting and one other lady pregnant and an ageing beau who also shows an interest in the Duke’s sister. Sigh, one is disposed to fear the worst.

However, the surprise couldn’t be more pleasant and entertaining and 1633 meets the 21st century seemingly effortless. Matthew Dunster’s production vibrates with intensity and humour and it plays upon so many emotional experiences of timeless human nature that lastly, it is only the splendorous costumes supervised by Sabine Lemaître that position the story in the 17th century. Anna Fleischle designed a fascinating set, accentuating the plot by intriguingly backlit arches and space creating video projections.

Love's Sacrifice

Matthew Needham as Duke of Pavy

Amazing in his part as the Duke of Pavy, Matthew Needham initially behaves youthfully impulsive, though comprehensible, but bit by bit he lets transpire that his fits of enthusiasm are a weak cover for his rather unhinged personality.
In the character of his sister Fiormonda, Beth Cordingly represents his female equivalent. Her portrayal makes it crystal clear that through her permanently vexed ego, Fiormonda has no chance to make positive decisions.

Love's Sacrifice

Matthew Needham and Catrin Stewart as Duke and Duchess of Pavy

Jonathan McGuiness displays D’Avolos, the Duke’s secretary, as a particularly interesting personality. One wonders whether he has a personal weak spot for Fiormonda or just a lot of empathy with her situation. He is a spin doctor who is convinced that he is pulling all strings for the greater good and at the end is honestly surprised that he is held responsible for the tragic turn of events.

The young Duchess Bianca, that’s Catrin Stewart showing her as someone who is honestly confused. There is even a slight reminiscence of Sissy, the poor Austrian Empress, about her.

Jamie Thomas King as Fernando

Jamie Thomas King as Fernando

Her admirer Fernando (Jamie Thomas King), the Duke’s friend, is torn between reason and emotion and ends up squashed between these fronts.

Matthew Kelly and Colin Ryan as Mauruccio and Giacopo

Matthew Kelly and Colin Ryan as Mauruccio and Giacopo

A highly touchingly comical part is Mauruccio, the ageing society junkie, played by Matthew Kelly. As his servant Giacapo, Colin Ryan amazes with a massive show stealing capacity.

Not least through the breathtaking musical scenery written by Alexander Balanescu and a fabulous movement display by Charlotte Broom, this production is one to remember fondly.

Photos by Helen Maybanks ©RSC

 

Andy Apollo – Ferentes
Sheila Atim – Julia
Guy Burgess – Nibrassa
Beth Cordingly – Fiormonda
Geoffrey Freshwater – Abbot
Marcus Griffiths – Roseilli
Rhiannon Handy – Colona
Simon Hedger  – Guard
Julian Hoult – Attendant
Matthew Kelly – Mauruccio
Jamie Thomas King – Fernando
Jonathan McGuinness – D’Avolos
Annette McLaughlin – Morona
Matthew Needham  – Duke of Pavy
Richard Rees  – Petruchio
Colin Ryan – Giacapo
Nav Sidhu – Attendant
Catrin Stewart – Bianca
Gabby Wong – Attendant
Director – Matthew Dunster
Designer – Anna Fleischle
Lighting – Lee Curran
Music – Alexander Balanescu
Sound – Ian Dickinson
Movement – Charlotte Broom
Video – Dick Straker

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