Monday, 8 August 2011

A Woman Killed By Kindness Review

A Woman Killed By Kindness
by Thomas Heywood

A Play Of Two Halves

Apparently, according to those in the know, director Katie Mitchell is an auteur who polarizes audiences and critics. Well, TLT does remember, before the start of her bloggery, sitting through the sheer unadulterated boredom of Her Naked Skin directed by the aforesaid Ms Mitchell. In fact, TLT already feels  like she’s revved up her pompous fuddy-duddy-Muppet-grumpy-old-man-like-side using the epithet “Ms" Mitchell for this production of 1603 play A Woman Killed By Kindness by Thomas Heywood. Except that, quite unexpectedly, TLT enjoyed it.  TLT and her side-kick have little idea whether what they saw reflects the original play – but hey, Mr Heywood’s been published – it’s not like there can be an unresolved squabble in the audience’s mind as to what is the writer and what is the director (even though a “text editor” Lucy Kirkwood was involved).  Anyway, it's a tale of two households played out on a split stage, one aristocratic and one middle-class, one with an adulterous wife and the other a sister more or less sold to a creditor. While some have noted an updating to 1919 brings it  into the time of Downton Abbey, it is, in TLT’s opinion,  a critique of bodice-ripping modern cinematic or television portrayals of such eras.  This makes it a very cool, but  nevertheless always gripping production with the implications of debt and money lending adding a certain relevant frisson. A couple of missteps – the entry of one of the women with a suicidal rope round her neck seemed crude and unwarranted; the final line sent TLT scurrying to the NT bookshop to look it up and find her disquiet  about its attribution in the on-stage version was well-founded. However,  these two  quibbles apart,  “out of tune, out of time” is in the text and with wonderful parallel staging, design and always engrossing acting, it worked for TLT, who with her side-kick, awards this production a coveted green light!

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