The very walls seem to ooze misogyny in Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women. But strip that tacky wallpaper away and you’ll find a Jacobean-era playwright keenly aware of the plight of women in his day, no matter how harshly he seems to treat them at first glance. Basically sold at market, their only value virginity (for a proper wife) or beauty (for a proper whore), the few roles available to women in the 1600’s were fraught with danger and boredom.
It’s a world Constellation Theatre Company relishes, their epic ensemble style boldly walking the line between grand guignol scenery chewing and magical hyper-surrealism. And in a month where zombies lurch and vampires stalk, this is the perfect theatrical outing for Halloween.
The play’s anti-humanist self-loathing is deeply rooted in a Calvinist world view that may not be so alien to our own. The fear of the inevitable decline of the body, the perversion of purity into decay, love to lust, flesh to disease… what a great time to live! These fears were daily concerns to people who saw their world laid waste by bubonic plague and civil war. Constellation has cleverly chosen to shake up this grotesquerie with a Tim Burton flair. Though it takes a bit for that creepiness to blossom, when it finally does it’s twisted sick fun.
Of course nothing is creepier than a theremin… Continue reading