The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings





New Jersey





Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
The White Devil

Dost thou imagine, thou canst slide on blood,
And not be tainted with a shameful fall?
Or, like the black and melancholic yew-tree,
Dost think to root thyself in dead men's graves,
And yet to prosper?
— Monticelso
The White Devil
Darrel D'Silva as Brachiano and Claire Price as Vittoria
(Photo: Manuel Harlan)
John Webster's The White Devil is one of the richest Jacobean Revenge tragedies for the beauty and clarity of its language and if anything, being staged in the intimate Menier Chocolate Factory, could be rather more intense than one might wish for.

The Menier has rearranged the seating in its flexible space to form a traverse stage with doors either side. Heavyweight actors Aidan McArdle, Claire Price and Darrell D'Silva with their experience at the National and the Royal Shakespeare Company are the main villains Flamineo, Vittoria and the Duke Brachiano in this modern dress production.

The White Devil is based on a real life case in sixteenth century Italy where a woman first married the nephew of a Cardinal and who, after the murder of her husband and his duchess Isabella de Medici, married the Duke of Brachiano. When he wrote it in 1612 Webster would have seen plenty of plotting against the monarch of the day, whether the various Catholic plots aimed at Elizabeth to put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne or the famous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 against Elizabeth's heir and Mary's son, James I.

In Webster's version Count Ludovico (Dylan Charles) is exiled from Rome. Vittoria's (Claire Price) brother Flamineo (Aidan McArdle) and Secretary to the duke, for his own career advancement, exploits the passion that the Duke of Brachiano (Darrell D'Silva) has for his sister. Together Flamineo and Brachiano plot to kill both Vittoria's husband Camino (John Dougall) and Isabella (Claire Cox), Brachiano's wife. They murder his wife by putting poison on the painting of her estranged husband's lips. You see despite his casting her off, Isabella still loves him enough to nightly kiss his portrait. Vittoria is put on trial for the murder of her husband and although she is not directly implicated in murder, just for inciting it, she defends herself well but is sentenced by the Cardinal (Christopher Godwin) to a home for penitent whores. She escapes and she and Brachiano are married. Isabella's brother Francisco (Louis Hilyer) disguised as a Moor and Ludovico and Gasparo disguised as Capuchin monks plot revenge. First they poison Brachiano with a helmet and mask full of poison. The maid Zanche (Karen Bryson) reveals the murders to her supposed countryman the Moor. Flamineo persuades Zanche and Vittoria to kill each other but instead they turn the pistols on him but he rises from the dead as the pistols were not loaded. Prompted by Isabella's ghost Ludovico and Gasparo kill Flamineo and Vittoria.

Claire Price as Vittorio is as pale and tall and fair as her brother Flamineo is dark and slight and malevolent. McArdle's Flamineo, probably the White Devil of the title although there are several candidates in Webster's play, is underplayed which sits strangely in this Jacobean blood and thunder play.

It was almost as if the traverse playing area was too small for staging The White Devil. I was distracted by the entrances and exits and the direction not allowing anyone to stand still creating a noise of feet on the floor which I found distracting. The upside of this was that the sightlines were good and no-one was blocked for more than a few seconds. The plot is quite intricate and the staging and disguises add to the confusion. The second act though is considerably more satisfying than the first with its opulent wedding scene and of course the gory and realistic murders.
The White Devil
Written by John Webster
Directed by Jonathan Munby

Starring: Darrell D'Silva, Aidan McArdle, Claire Price, Dylan Charles
With: Ross Armstrong, Karen Bryson, Claire Cox, John Dougall, Christopher Godwin, Louis Hilyer, Nitzan Sharron, Sandra Voe
Design: Philip Witcomb
Lighting: Hartley TA Kemp
Movement: Georgina Lamb
Music and Composer: Dominic HaslamĀ 
Running time: Two hours 40 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 020 7907 7060
Booking to 15th November 2008
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 10th October 2008 performance at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark Street, London SE1 (Rail/Tube: London Bridge)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The White Devil
  • I disagree with the review of The White Devil
  • The review made me eager to see The White Devil
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email and state if you'd like your comments published in our letters section.

London Theatre Tickets
Lion King Tickets
Billy Elliot Tickets
Mighty Boosh Tickets
Mamma Mia Tickets
We Will Rock You Tickets
Theatre Tickets
London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2008, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from