Review: John Webster’s The White Devil, RSC, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Kirsty Bushell as Vittoria and David Sturzaker as Bracciano. Photo Tristram Kenton

Kirsty Bushell as Vittoria and David Sturzaker as Bracciano. Photo Tristram Kenton

For better or worse, I rarely research plays before I see them. Some plays, I know better than others, but when unfamiliar I don’t seek information out. Part of it it’s being otherwise busy, part of it it’s a belief the production will and should deliver in its own terms.

This is a long-winded way of saying I knew nothing of The White Devil as I sat on my seat to see Maria Aberg’s production. I knew it was John Webster, which meant the mysteries of life would be explored through the prism of grizzly deaths. I knew there would be sexual references because it was written on a sign as we were entering the auditorium. I couldn’t help but think “sexual references” felt much too tame for what I had in mind. In the end, this proved correct. My impression of the production was it felt tame and kept the audience at arm’s length. Continue reading