The Duchess of Malfi | Trap Door Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Duchess of Malfi Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Feb. 20 2016

You'd think the Duchess of Malfi would be the subject of The Duchess of Malfi, but you'd be wrong. At least insofar as this Trap Door Theatre production is concerned, the duchess is the object of John Webster's famously lurid Jacobean drama. The subjects are four men: her two brothers, one a Machiavellian cardinal, the other a sick tyrant; a moody hired gun called Bosola; and Antonio, the social inferior to whom she's secretly married. Director Christopher Marino pushes these guys forward while the duchess gets treated like a sexed-up teenager in a horror movie. Unfair as that strategy sounds, it leads to some striking moments—especially when we're watching Casey Chapman's tyrant descend from powder-faced aesthete to incestuous, necrophilic wolfman (really!). Overall, though, Marino has trouble controlling the tone, with the result that the play too often comes across as a cartoon rather than a nightmare. —Tony Adler

Price: $20-$25

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