Jul
8

Video Librarian reviews The Duchess of Malfi Education Pack

Called "the best single all-around source of video information available" (USA Public Libraries Association), Video Librarian has been the review publication of choice among librarians for over 20 years. Here is their review of The Duchess of Malfi Education Pack from Stage on Screen:

Video Librarian: July/August edition 2011  (Volume 26, Issue 4)

The Duchess of Malfi: Education Pack. (2010) 3 discs. 156 min. DVD: $129 ($249 w/PPR). Kino Lorber Edu.

John Webster's 1612 tragedy is one of the few regularly performed Jacobean dramas not written by Shakespeare. The play itself is a 17th-century horror show, with strangling, infanticide, stabbing, and poisoning among the means of murder employed in the tale of a noble heiress destroyed, along with some of her children, by her brothers, one an unscrupulous fortune hunter and the other a lascivious churchman, because she rashly married her steward.

Structurally, The Duchess of Malfi is a ramshackle piece spread over five acts, but the language is memorable, and Bosola, the vengeance-seekers instrument of violence, who ultimately turns on his employers, is a fascinating character. In this 2010 staging at London's Greenwich Theatre, Tim Treloar stands out as Bosola among the solid cast, with Aislin McGuckin in the title role. While the decision to situate the action at the beginning of World War II is debatable, the stark setting and costume design are striking, and the fluid camerawork enhances the effect. What makes this release especially notable, however, is its educational value, thanks to a pair of accompanying discs: the first includes interviews with director Elizabeth Freestone, the major actors, and production staff members; the second features the whole play seen from a single perspective, allowing every directorial choice to be studied. The related website also includes a downloadable copy of the text. Other titles in this excellent series include Doctor Faustus, The School for Scandal, and Volpone.

Highly recommended, especially for libraries serving theater departments.  

“The two leads have the makings of a delicious double act, Bremmer snuffling with mirth into his ginger furs as Hadfield makes boobies of the avaricious hypocrites with easy wit.”
The Times
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