Marianne Elliott is a really thoughtful director who considers very carefully the aesthetic of a production. I felt that she has done a really good job with Middleton’s macabre Women Beware Women, and her choice of twentieth-century Italian costumes works very well. Central to the play is the game of chess between Leantio’s mother and Livia. The game becomes a metaphor for the way characters play each other. This production brings home the different sexual manipulations in the play For example, the virgin bride married below her status, the rape by the Duke, the incest between niece and uncle, and the older woman’s lust for a younger man. Lez Brotherson’s set brings out the contrast between the aristocracy and working classes, and at the end as it starts to revolve all the elements of the plot are brought together in a stunning finale. This worked particularly well on the large Olivier stage.
What I found really interesting about this play is that women are the revengers and I thought Harriet Walter is stylish and sinister as Livia. Lauren O’Neil as Bianco and Vanessa Kirby as Isabella were also very strong.
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