The Duchess of Malfi

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 17 March 2012, Opened 28 March 2012, Closed 9 June 2012 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of John Webster's Jacobean tragedy The Duchess of Malfi in London starring Eve Best and directed by Jamie Lloyd.

The cast for The Duchess of Malfi in London features Eve Best in the title role along with Madeline Appiah, Harry Attwell, Tom Bateman, Nari Blair-Mangat, Mark Bonnar, Adam Burton, Vyelle Croom, Lucy Eaton, Taylor James, Harry Lloyd, Finbar Lynch, Tunji Kasim, Iris Roberts and Alan Westaway. It is directed by Jamie Lloyd with choreography by Ann Yee, designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by James Farncombe and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham. PLEASE NOTE: Contains scenes of a sexual nature and violence. Eve Best's West End credits include Howard Davies' revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten (Old Vic Theatre 2006) and Richard Eyre's revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (Duke of York's Theatre 2005).

"Jacobean theatre, with the Catholic threat receding, loved to contemplate the horrors of Romish Europe. John Webster, with Gothic glee, created a Cardinal steeped in lust and espionage, his brother the Duke a pallid psychopath incestuously preoccupied with his widowed sister... The wonder of the play is that against the filthy darkness shines theatre's most wholesome, heroic, high-spirited heroine. Eve Best's Duchess is a perfection of laughing, blooming, sane maturity from her arrival scattering light to her defiant grief and dry humour facing death. She is dignified yet stridingly energetic, touching and humorous in her awkward proposal to the steward Antonio and laughing at her few grey hairs in fulfilled, tousled sexiness as she jokes with him and her maid. In her final terrible travails Best rises to magnificence and her 'I am Duchess of Malfi still!' echoes in my ears hours later." The Times

"The director Jamie Lloyd... throws himself into this production with all of his usual gusto, and, with its sumptuous good looks and assured performances, it works a treat. The play's obsession with class - a modern preoccupation, as Julian Fellowes's continuing success attests - and the resonances it has, too, with the spate of so-called 'honour killings' make this revival look adroitly timed. Lloyd presents it in its original language and period, on an imposing cathedral-like set designed by Soutra Gilmour. Eve Best plays the title role with affecting charm that keeps it all - just about - within the realms of believablility." The Sunday Telegraph

"A major blood transfusion, a pacemaker, even multiple organ transplants won't rescue this ailing show. A great production of John Webster's The Duchess Of Malfi should make us feel as if we are locked in the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds. But there's more to it than gore. At its heart, it's a love story and a tragedy. Jamie Lloyd's darkly candlelit revival looks fabulous thanks to Soutra Gilmour's creation of a cathedral-like space of carved polished arches and gilded walkways. It begins well, with all the characters dancing, concealed beneath masks with vast noses and cowls. So far, so sinister. Eve Best's Duchess first appears in a shaft of dazzling light. She's a widow who has unwisely fallen in love with Antonio, her steward. Which wouldn't matter, if she didn't have two seriously pervy brothers who don't want her to remarry anyone... Best, a smilingly stoical Duchess in capable Kate Middleton, head-girl mode rather than as a fragile Princess Diana figure, which would have made better sense. She seems resigned to death from the word go. Admittedly, there are some chilling moments but passion is in poor supply and the production seldom thrills as Webster can and should." The Mail on Sunday

The Duchess of Malfi in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 17 March 2012, opened on 28 March 2012 and closed on 9 June 2012.