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#138 A Woman Killed By Kindness

September 21, 2011
Photo by Stephen Cummiskey

Paul Ready and Liz White (her off of Life on Mars) get trapped in a misogynist nightmare. Boo mysogyny. No, wait, too many 'y's there. Mysoginy. No. Listen. Just don't be nasty to ladies, okay?

Is this still on at the NT? Hold on, I’ll check. No, it’s not. So it falls to us to tell you that you missed Katie Mitchell’s strong, bleak re-interpretation of this hoary old 1603 Thomas Heywood drama. It’s about the parallel stories (told by dividing the stage into two separate and immovable domestic interiors) of two unfortunate women. One is unfaithful and is punished by the ‘kindness’ of separation rather than death – lucky her! The other is forced to marry a man she doesn’t love to pay off her brothers’ debts. Neither, as you can imagine, have it easy.

This version makes the women the protagonists, but it’s not how it’s written – rather than suffering together they’re meant to be at opposite ends of the moral spectrum: slut vs saint (since the other doesn’t lose her virginity until she’s wed). But here, they’re equally oppressed by the males around them. These women are more happened to than happening, it’s quite a stretch to dramatise their conditions in this way – but it works.

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