It's True, It's True, It's True

What does the transcript of a 17th century Italian rape trial reveal about the state of the world nowadays? That, despite 400 years of supposed social progress, the impulse to blame rape victims and protect the perpetrators doesn’t seem to have disappeared. In a festival full of testimonials and denouncements of violence against women, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True, presents us with perhaps the earliest: that of baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, who bravely defied norms by prosecuting her well-connected tutor and rapist, Agostino Tassi.

Brilliantly intelligent, multi-layered and charged with moral outrage

Performed by Sophie Steer, Kathryn Bond, Ellice Stevens the trio quickly reveal the double standards at play in the Renaissance and contemporary legal systems with every one of Gentileschi’s claims disputed, pored over and distorted beyond recognition.Tassi, in the employ of the Pope, is unsurprisingly given the benefit of the doubt and spared from facing the consequences of his bringing to mind a worrying amount of modern example such as Brock Turner. Steer, as Tassi, is full of quiet menace and uncannily evokes the unearned overconfidence of a man who thinks he’s beyond reproach. Like RashDash proved in Two Man Show, it seems the best way to properly interrogate toxic male behaviour is to get a woman to play one.

BREACH have certainly made a name for themselves with their distinctive style: reconstructing historical events from verbatim documents to interrogate the present and using theatre’s theatricality to explore the arts’ ability to reframe the narrative. It’s True, It’s True, It’s True, is perhaps the clearest example of this with the trio reconstructing and deconstructing Gentilsechi’s paintings to highlight importance of including female perspectives to get closer to the truth. As with all of BREACH’s work the truth is a slippery thing and the company refuse to end on an easy-to-digest note, attempting to redefine Gentileschi as the groundbreaking artist and woman she was rather than reducing her to her victimhood. It’s True, It’s True, It’s True is brilliantly intelligent, multi-layered and charged with moral outrage – let’s hope time is well and truly up for men like Tassi.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

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The Blurb

Fringe First and Total Theatre Award-winning Breach (Tank, The Beanfield) restage the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi for the rape of baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Based on surviving court transcripts, this new play dramatises the seven-month trial that gripped Renaissance Rome, and asks how much has changed in the last four centuries. Blending myth, history and contemporary commentary, this is the story of how a woman took revenge through her art to become one of the most successful painters of her generation. 'Theatrically ambitious and boldly political' (Guardian). Untapped Award winner 2018.

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