Tis Pity

Natalie Audley’s ‘Tis Pity is a clever retelling of John Ford’s 17th century incestuous drama ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore. Set in 1950s England, the performance provides the gore and suspense of the original play while associating its tragedy with a playful and witty script.

‘Tis Pity is an enjoyable performance, although I would not call it ground-breaking. It leaves its audience happily satisfied but far from mesmerised by its disturbing plot.

Gregory has gone off to university in London, leaving his younger sister Anita at home in the country under the hold of her loving yet overprotective father. Anita is eighteen years old when her father promises her hand in marriage to the son of a powerful Don. Upon hearing this, Gregory is overwhelmed by an obsessive, romantic love for his sister and decides to act on his emotions and attempt to hinder the engagement, casting aside the advice given to him by his sharp and astute cousin Benedict. Passion, ambition and familial responsibilities culminate in inevitable tragedy. A sense of foreboding overrides the performance from the very first scenes, gripping the audience’s attention for the whole length of the play.

‘Tis Pity retains the glorious blood and gore of the original text. This is at first conveyed by red ribbons released and let flutter from various inflicted wounds. However, the decision to occasionally replace the ribbons with fake blood seems incongruous and somewhat dampens the elegant symbolism of the ribbons. T’was a pity, too, that the candied smell of false blood and wine infested the room, leaving a sickly feeling in my stomach.

Tim Bond and Natalie Audley’s eerily credible casting as the brother/sister pair evokes a genuine discomfort in the audience, who witness their incestuous relationship. Audley’s performance is charming, although we might have appreciated a little more depth to Anita, whose central role could provide a more intriguing character. Indeed, her irritating naivety persists even as the play unfolds and she loses her initial innocence.

The four other cast members are also tightly rehearsed and complement one another well. Warren Saunders enacts the promised husband with conviction, using his large stature to convey the power of his character despite his masochistic brainlessness. Peter Strong too relates the multi-faceted, charismatic and sly cousin Benedict with subtle talent.

‘Tis Pity is an enjoyable performance, although I would not call it ground-breaking. It leaves its audience happily satisfied but far from mesmerised by its disturbing plot.  

Reviews by Maria Hagan

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The Blurb

A re-imagining of John Ford’s classic play, written by Natalie Audley. It relocates the infamous incest drama to the late 1950s, England. A young man falls violently in love with his little sister, despite her engagement to the son of a powerful Don. Gregory abandons law, common sense and tradition in his quest to win the love of his sister, Anita. Expect the same level of blood, passion and eloquent writing to please a Ford purist. ‘Intelligent and unflinching’ (Sussex Express on The Great I Am).

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