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Play Review: NTU Drama Society presents – The Duchess of Malfi

A tale of love, death and revenge tragedy was executed spectacularly by NTU’s Drama Society this week.

The cast told the story of a young, recently widowed Duchess who disobeys her villainous brothers by falling in love with a Steward.

The play, which was set in Italy, was well illustrated on the stage with the use of painted vines and pillars. It almost felt like we were in Malfi ourselves.  

The heroine, played by Grace Jastrezebski, was definitely the star of the show and really brought the character to life. I genuinely believed her struggle in breaking free from her brothers’ tyranny.

The steward Antonio, played by Kyran Wood, sparked the fire in the plot by bringing the love between himself and the Duchess to life and supporting her feminism through defying the hierarchy and patriarchy.

The chemistry between the lovers was illustrated passionately through raunchy kissing scenes and grand gestures on the wedding night which really helped the audience invest in their love story.

Brothers played by Sam Harvey and Hugh Murray were classic portrayals of men in the Jacobean era.

Sam Harvey’s depiction of the Cardinal was ruthless, cold and corrupt – not what you would expect from your typical Cardinal.

This was a brilliant juxtaposition to his brother, Ferdinand who used his emotions to fuel his villainous and criminal passions.

The highlight for us was when Ferdinand was in the height of his lycanthropic frenzy, and fully embraced the wolf within him by ripping open his shirt and getting on all fours.

The gender swapped take on the spy Basola was inspiring and very well played by the actress Alice Spall. The shifting morals of the character added a complexity to the tale and intrigued the audience, not knowing who’s side the super-spy was really taking.

While not being the main characters in the play, the story was well enhanced by Cariola, Delio and Julia who linked all the characters together.

Hats off to all the actors who clearly learnt the script to a T regardless of the difficulties of it being dialect from the sixteenth century.

It was directors Tadgh Tobin and Tom Pluse, first times directing a play, and they should definitely be proud of what they have accomplished.

Although this was a first for us, we will without a doubt be going to watch more Drama Society productions in the future.

By Eve Watson and Katie Sharman

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