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MokitaGrit Productions in association with The Steam Industry


Double Falsehood


by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher


Directed by Phil Willmott


Union Theatre


18 Jan - 12 Feb 2011






A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Double Falsehood has not been performed since 1727, when Lewis Theobald claimed he based his version on a 'lost' play staged in 1613 by Shakespeare's company. It is unlikely that Shakespeare had very much to do with it as the characters are very much plot driven, unlike the unforgettably three dimensional characters who populate Shakespeare's plays. Most telling is the dearth of poetry and the clunky verbosity which sometimes impedes the action. However, Phil Willmott invites his audiences to judge for themselves, following the play's inclusion in the Arden Collected Shakepeare last year and the news of another version being staged by the RSC in April.

The Double Falsehood is committed by the Duke's son Henrique (Ada Redmore), a villainous lecher who rapes the servant Violante (Jessie Lilley) and plots to send his friend Julio (Gabriel Vick) away to court so he can steal Julio's fiancée Leonora (Emily Plumtree) and marry her himself instead. The plot is complex, moving from court to pastoral scenes and involving many Shakespearean motifs such as brothers at odds and cross dressing women with the virtuous son Roderick (Sam Hoare) eventually engineering the resolution and the outcast Violante wandering the hills disguised as a shepherd boy where she meets the equally distressed Julio. However, Violante is quite unlike any Shakespearean heroine in her outspoken determination to hold Henrique to account for his actions.

The setting is sparse, with suggestions of a 1950#s Spanish Hacienda, evoked by designer Javier De Frutos' overhanging lanterns and Melody Wood's costumes, which include the snapping fan and tassled shawl of Leonora's severe mother, well played by Su Douglas. Jessie Lilley stole the show as Violante with her plaintive singing and impassioned sense of injustice; although the play required her to contemplate suicide, it never appeared to be a likely option. Emily Plumtree also gave a good performance as Leonora, even less free than her servant Violante, she is the counter in property bargaining between neighbours with no say over who she marries, although she also speaks forcefully against her situation. The women come out of this play much better than the men, although an enjoyably comic turn by the exasperated Stephen Boswell as Julio's father was essential to lighten the mood.

Double Falsehood is a cracking melodrama, gripping from start to finish with plenty of entertaining plot twists. How much did Shakespeare have to do with it? I'm with Phil Willmott on this, I think you should go along and decide for yourself.


Union Theatre

204 Union St, London SE1 0LX


Tues - Sat: 7:30pm, Sun: 4pm

Tickets £15

Box Office: 020 7261 9876




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