Decided to combine my reviews of two of John Ford’s players here as I didn’t have much to say about the second play, however interesting it was. I also just wanted to keep track of my thoughts on this play here.
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore
By: John Ford
The tragic story of incestuous love between Giovanni and his sister Annabella.
When Annabella is found to be pregnant by her brother, she agrees to marry her suitor Soranzo. But when the lovers’ incestuous secret is discovered, vengeance and bloody murder follow.
I was curious about this play after hearing that it had a successful run at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in late 2014. John Ford is one of those playwrights who lived and wrote in and around Shakespeare’s time (actually short afterwards? His plays are considered Jacobean). The book blurb pretty much tells the story more or less, though from the opening sequence the reader is already well aware that this play will not end well for (almost) everyone. Giovanni and Annabella, the Jaime and Cersei Lannister of Jacobean theatre, I rather felt sorry for them, feeling the way they do; if you take out the brother & sister context, their love for each other was the purest and most sincere of the entire cast. Everyone else were either out for their own interests, were greedy, insincere, etc. But man, it got really bloody at the end when they are discovered and almost everyone dies. There’s also quite a swipe made towards the church at the end, as well as the sad state of women’s position in society during this time; the claim that the Friar makes sounds directed at Annabella, which is outrageous as despite of her connection to her brother was quite sincere and innocent.
I am amused though that Annabella’s lady companion’s name was Putana. Whose side do you think she’s on? 😛
Also, I have to say, if you’re going to listen to the play, I wouldn’t recommend LibriVox. I started listening to the play through there and I had to stop about halfway through Act 1 because the person playing Giovanni was playing him very creepily. The whole thing with Giovanni and Annabella is already problematic, no need to amp the creep factor up. I couldn’t ignore it, I had to stop.
Overall, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore was an accessible read with some interesting themes and food for thought about feelings and the sincerity of them.
The Broken Heart
By: John Ford
The lifeless trunk shall wed the broken heart.
The scene is ancient Sparta and the loving couple Penthea and Orgilus are forced apart by her brother and Penthea is pressed into a loveless marriage with a brutal and jealous old man. Orgilus, disguised as a poor scholar, watches, waits, and as events unfold, unleashes a terrible cycle of revenge.
I immediately picked up this play after reading the last one, partly because I’m on a roll and partly because this play is on right now at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It’s gotten some mixed reviews but at the same time it’s considered one of John Ford’s lesser-performed plays (despite of its absence of any controversy, unlike the previous play). It’s an interesting setting–Sparta–but it follows the John Ford scheme of love, tragedy, and bloody revenge all around. It’s an interesting play but there’s a lot of different storylines under this title; it takes a while to figure out how everything will factor in together at the end. The main storyline, the situation there, really sucked and I felt so sorry for Penthea.
Not sure what else to say about this play as I was half-asleep when I read a good chunk of it, but yeah, it sucked for everyone. Nonetheless it was an interesting read.