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BWW Review: 'TIS A PITY SHE'S A WHORE Brings Love, Gore and Incest

Jenna Berk as Annabella and
Danny Cackley as Giovanni.
Photo by Claire Kimball.

'TIS A PITY SHE'S A WHORE is being performed in conjunction with the production KING AND NO KING as part of the "The Incest Rep[atory]." To be quite honest, I saw this and rolled my eyes. I assumed the theme of incest was simply being performed for the shock value and there not much beyond that.

That said, I left the theater pleasantly surprised and a bit (pleasantly? ) disturbed. 'TIS A PITY, produced by Brave Spirits Theatre is a play written by John Ford, around the 1630s in Elizabethan era English. It is the tragic story of two siblings Giovanni (Danny Cackley) and Annabella (Jenna Berk) who fall in love. In the meantime, Annabella is being courted by several suitors and Giovanni has to deal with his jealousy. And with any piece from this time period, it wouldn't be a drama if there wasn't some additional adultery and revenge thrown into the mix.

Director Charlene Smith did a phenomenal job guiding the cast through the wild text and making it a show that regardless of interest in theater or understanding of Elizabethan English, you will both understand the show and find something you like about it.

That said, the cast did a terrific job of bringing their characters to life. It was well cast and the actors worked well as an ensemble. It was also clear the actors brought their own understanding to the play and utilized what lied beneath the surface of the text to both make it easy for the audience to appreciate and to make it more fun and over-the-top. Whether that was Brendan Edward Kennedy, playing the role of a suitor (and fool) Bergertto dancing across the stage because of his successes or Berk's angrily tensing at her suitors, every actor carried their weight in this piece.

It was an interesting experience being in such a small theater. Not every show does or can take advantage of being so close to the audience. There were several times where the actors were communicating directly (whether with their words or their eyes) with the audience. The intimacy added an important intensity and the created an interesting audience dynamic. Moreover, Smith was very creative with the staging. The stage itself was a T-shape and she worked with the actors well to have them best use the space. The actors were able to address the audience from all directions and frequently bring themselves into the audience, adding to the intimate feel.

'TIS A PITY SHE'S A WHORE is definitely a story with some shock value. The end definitely takes you by surprise, but as previously mentioned it is just a great opportunity for some involved theater. Just watching the sword fights will have you at the edge of your seat perhaps more than watching the same piece on television.

Run time is about 2 hours and 20 minutes with a 10 minute intermission, performed at The Lab at Convergence: 1819 N. Quaker Lane Alexandria, VA 22302. This show is not recommended for audiences under the age of 13 due to smoke and violence.

For tickets visit, http://www.bravespiritstheatre.com/portfolio/tis-pity-shes-a-whore/


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