|Mainstage Play Warns About Consequences of Deceitful Love
October 19, 2007
by Rachel Andoga
Although the play gains its name from a warning issued by a character in the final scene, Director Mark Sutch’s Davidson College production of Women Beware Women cautions not against the "snares that women set for women," but rather, against the bold and terrible things people are willing to do in the name of love.
One of the most psychologically and theatrically powerful tragedies
of the English Renaissance, Women Beware Women tells the story of fleeting love, the corruption of youth, and brutal revenge.
|(l-r) Ben Bashinski '10 and Desi Domo '09 and are among characters making poor decisions in "Women Beware Women."|
Performances of Women Beware Women will be October 24-25 at 7:30 p.m., October 26-27 at 8:15 p.m., and October 28 at 2 p.m., all in Davidson's Duke Family Performance Hall. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $11 for seniors, and $6 for students. As a special promotion, two tickets may be purchased for the price of one for the Wednesday and Thursday night shows, October 24-25. For reservations and ticket information, call 704-894-2135 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, or order online at www.davidson.edu/tickets. This production is intended for mature audiences only.
The story concerns happy newlyweds Leantio and Bianca, who establish a cozy domestic life in Leantio’s hometown of Florence. But Leantio’s paranoid jealousy and frequent business trips soon leave his young wife bored and desperate for diversions. Meanwhile, pampered young heiress Isabella is desperately trying to avoid being trapped into an arranged marriage with a ridiculous fop. Through the machinations of the powerful Duke of Florence and a wealthy, scheming widow, these three young innocents are dragged deeper and deeper into a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, culminating in a shocking and violent finale.
Women Beware Women is a tragedy written by Thomas Middleton in 1621 during the reign of King James I, a period marked by violent morality plays about lust and revenge. One of the principal Jacobean playwrights of the period, Middleton was a contemporary of Shakespeare and wrote his tragedies in a similar structure and style. “Middleton’s verse is less poetic and imagistic than Shakespeare, but possesses a kind of blunt, colloquial power,” said Sutch, a visiting assistant professor of theatre.
|Director Mark Sutch (r) works through a scene with Bashinski as violinist Michael Spangler '10 composes the play's incidental music.|
The decision to produce Women Beware Women emerged partially out of a desire to compliment Davidson's annual Royal Shakespeare Company residency. Sutch said, "The RSC has been coming to town a lot, so we thought to produce a play from that era that wasn't written by Shakespeare seemed a worthy goal for the theatre department."
Middleton’s play was rarely staged until the late 1960s, when it resurfaced in “what can only be described as a cultural revolution featuring a renewed interest in the darker side of passion,” said Sutch.
He continued, “The play is about the corruption of innocence and the ways in which we will do anything for love, regardless of the consequences. I think that these are the themes that make the play attractive to a modern audience. It’s very dark, very cynical in its world view. I would say that the play’s power and potency is equal to the best of Shakespeare’s tragedies.”
Ian Bond ’10, who plays a nobleman who falls in love with his young niece, agrees with Sutch’s assessment. “Human emotion doesn’t change,” he said. “The basic messages of the play are emotional, not contextual, and humans haven’t changed over the last 400 years.”
|Ian Bond '10 gets the upper hand on Bashinski in a fight scene.|
Sutch added, “We all make bad decisions for love, but hopefully, our bad decisions don’t lead to a body count!”
Chris Moore ’08 describes his character, a Duke who exploits his power to gain the love of the newlywed Bianca, as “someone who knows what he wants and will do whatever he must to get it, regardless of the consequences.”
Briana Hunter ’08 added, “I’d say that of most of the characters in the play! Women Beware Women really looks at how quickly situations can spin out of control." She plays Livia, a clever widow who Bond describes as "an architect of destruction."
Professor of Theatre and Speech Joe Gardner has designed the set for the play, and Technical Director Josh Peklo has managed set construction. Peklo graduated from Davidson in 1997 and joins the Theatre Department from Yale University’s Technical Design and Production Department. The lighting was designed by guest artist Brian J. Lilienthal, resident lighting designer at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.
|(l-r) Chris Moore '08 and Josh Carson '09.|
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz