“The White Devil” is a marvellously staged play that deals an early modern tragedy, a type of play in which crime spurs secret retaliation that in turn spurs futher revenge. We see this cycle when Branchiano (Daniel Oreskes), married to Isabella (Jenny Bacon), falls in love with Vittoria, who is married to Camillo. Branchiano has his wife killed, and does likewise to Camillo. Francisco, Duke of Florence and his sister of , Isabella seeks revenge for her murder, aided by the Cardinal Monticelso (Robert Cuccioli),and Count Lodovico. Vittoria stands trial and is sentenced to a religious house before both she and Branchiano, and a host of others are killed.
John Webster, who lived around the same time that William Shakespeare did, is most known for two comedies, Westward Ho and Northward Ho. Webster wrote “The White Devil” in 1612 and the more popular”The Duchess of Malfi” in 1614. Considered to be a great writer, no one heaped more praise on Webster than T.S. Eliot. Eliot thought Webster was insightful and significant.
What made “The White Devil” a successful play was the staging, lighting, costumes, as well as the directing and most of the acting.
Chad Raines music and sound design was superb. Upbeat and edgy, Raines captured the true essence of the mood of this play. The music and the design that were on the mark.
Yana Birykova’s Video Design was both extremely creative and extraordinary. We first meet Lodovico (Derek Smith), who has been exiled on a teleprompter, his up close face captures his many expressions and the audience has deep feelings as to what he has been through. Throughout the show, we see key situations of the plot line on this prompter.
Also pivotal in this show is the great staging and scenic design from Kate Knoll. The stage is an open/extended stage that let’s the actors move freely throughout the show. To make the Audience feel a part of the show, Knoll has the actors moving about the front and the semi round stage.
Beth Goldenberg had a great selection of costumes. This play that was written in 1612 was brought to date with great modern costumes. From the Grimm reaper garb to the elegant dresses worn, the costuming added to this really terrific show. Throughout the show, the costumes were always on mark and very provocative.
Director Louisa Proske keep this long two and a half hour show moving with great comedy, startling tragedy and great suspense throughout the evening. All the actors were interesting to us, many very different, but Proske had them blending effortlessly.
Many of the actors were outstanding. Derek Smith was flawless in his role, as were Robert Cuccioli, T.Ryder Smith, Tommy Schrider and Daniel Oreskes. Socorro Santiago was a standout as Matrona as was Jenny Bacon as Hortensio.
“The WhiteDevil” is a show that any aspiring person who wants to be in theater should see. From lighting, directing, staging and acting, this is a very delightful, well done show. Many talented people all came together to create this winner of a play. The Red Bull Theater at the Lucille Lortel put on a great show from soup to nuts. “The White Devil” runs throughout April. For the true theater lover, for anyone who appreciates the subtleties that make a show great, “White Devil” is for you.
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