Writer: John Webster
Director: Louisa Proske
Murder, Mayhem, and Fun! This is John Webster’s The White Devil, currently running at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York’s West Village. Webster, who wrote his plays in the 17th century, usually collaborated with others; however, scholars believe The White Devil was the first play he wrote by himself.
The White Devil is a tale that surfaces man’s ultimate lust for money, power, and…sex. Watching this hilarious cacophony unravel, under Louisa Proske’s superb direction, one may feel as though they are witnessing the lasciviousness of Caligula, meshed with the suspense of an Albert Hitchcock narrative. And Webster does not skimp on the backstabbing, church corruption, or infidelity. This is a revenge tragedy, in which crime spurs further revenge.
Stuart Howard’s laudable casting reflects diversity in gender, race, and age-which is refreshing to see in this piece, which was written in 1612. Standouts from the cast are Derek Smith as Lodovico, Cherie Corrine Rice as Giovanni and Zanche, and Jenny Bacon as Hortensio, Isabella, and a lawyer. Their comedic timing and zeal never ceases.
Kudos to the cast for keeping the energy up for the entire two hours and twenty minutes of non-stop action and dialogue (there is a 10-minute intermission). Proske masterfully pulls off keeping the pace of the story fluid and interesting, including having actors break the fourth wall and allowing the dialogue to overlap.
The solidness of this production is due in part to Kate Noll’s scenic design, Beth Goldenberg’s costume selection, and Leah J. Loukas’s hair and make-up choices.
The White Devil is a fun and entertaining revamping of a classic play that deserves large audiences.
Runs Until April 14, 2019 | Image: Carol Rosegg