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Volpone 2005 - Present Moment

'[T]his Volpone highlights the moral ambivalence in Jonson's writing. Bennathan comments that "it seems very clear that we are shown what real people can do in an impure world -- the characters are never self-deceiving -- they talk to us [the audience] and make us complicit to their petty crimes." Volponealso demonstrates the power of language, especially when used to beguile and entrap the greedy and the gullible. Although obviously a comedy, the violent exchange between the knife-wielding Corvino and his virtuous wife Celia (II.v) betrays a dark and sinister tone suggestive of impending tragedy.

Volpone is relocated to an 1860s London inhabited by grotesque characters based on nineteenth-century cartoon caricatures from the British Punchmagazine. the venue, Wilton's Music Hall, imposes its own dynamic on the production [...] a vast theatre space [with] its sweeping gallery and cathedral-like acoustic.

[T]he Victorian venue is reflected in the costumes of all the characters. Caroline Bird has designed outfits which reflect a Sherlock Holmes world of London fog, Jack the Ripper and top-hatted toffs. Volpone's own decrepit state is suggested by woollen shawl and Victorian night-cap, with straggling white hair attached. Volpone can swiftly remove this head gear to reveal the vibrancy of his manhood and the extent of his deceit. [...] Lady Politic [male actor] is portrayed as a grotesque pantomime dame who towers like a giantess over her diminutive husband. this casting choice reveals the comic potential of the role; it also suggests that on the early modern stage, Lady Politic would be a part well sited to a resident clown regardless of the performer's age. Bird has also designed the set which again is integrated into the faded grandeur of the Wilton's Music Hall atmosphere.'

Kevin Quarmby, RORD 45 (2006), 128-131


Reviewed in:

What's On, 5 October 2005

Time Out, 5 October 2005

The Stage, 13 October 2005