I am incredibly excited about this play being brought to the National Theatre in August. I studied it as an undergraduate at university and was pleasantly surprised to see that a 1603 drama could be so utterly relevant to our modern lives, and also be so emotional. The characters in this piece face the ruin of homes, relationships and reputations, and we watch them deal with these setbacks in a variety of ways. One method, alluded to in the title, is so punishing that it results in death, and it could just as easily happen to someone around you (albeit in slightly more modern circumstances). Who doesn’t know a girl that has taken problems out on herself, either physically or otherwise? It’s an age-old scenario.
With a concern for women that was far ahead of the society he lived in, Thomas Heywood has crafted a play that balances two plots, mental health problems and the ever-changing social position of both sexes at the time. I spent many a seminar despairing at the treatment of Anne and Susan, the key females, who were forced into corners metaphorically and were precariously treading the confusing line between obeying men and staying virtuous. Susan, as the pawn of her brother Sir Charles, is reluctantly used when no other gambling tool is left. Making a person your leverage is a very cruel decision, and something which adds to many of the drama’s tenser moments.
This production will be directed by Katie Mitchell (who previously oversaw a production of The Seagull) and the cast includes Liz White ( as seen in Life on Mars) and Sebastian Armesto (Bright Star). I wish them all the best of luck with the final rehearsals and will be booking my tickets as soon as possible. I’d advise you to do the same.