The Duchess of Malfi: Fifth Edition - John Webster, Brian Gibbons

BOSOLA. Break, heart!

Which pretty much sums up my reaction to this play. That and the recurring question of “Why have I not read or seen this before now?”.

As much as I am sure that I will never truly love Jacobean revenge tragedies, and as much as I am sure that I will always be grossed out by Titus Andronicus, I loved The Duchess of Malfi. It may have helped that unlike Titus A., The Duchess has a clear message…but also, there was “method to the madness” (which Will S. may not have mastered yet when he wrote Titus. He did master it later on, of course. ).

In The Duchess of Malfi we have complexity and human frailty and grand character scenes and greed and treachery and mischief and repentance.

Oh, and as an added bonus, I found a radio production of the play starring Roger Allam as Bosola and Fiona Shaw as the Duchess. (I may have actually squeed when I found this.)

Yup, it’s gory and horrible … and absolutely brilliant.

Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust,
Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust.

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