The Duchess of Malfi being produced in Toronto by Vile Passéist Theatre

From Press Release

Vile Passéist Theatre is excited to announce that its first season will open this August with the popular (yet seldom-produced) tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi. A collaborative group with a concentration on early-modern drama, VPT reveals its quick-paced, contemporary version of John Webster’s drama at the Walmer Centre Theatre (August 24-29).

Halifax director Dan Bray brings the Jacobean tragedy to life, focusing on the power of Webster’s text to make the four-hundred year-old play accessible to contemporary audiences. Such is VPT’s primary belief: the power of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays lies not in spectacle and special effects, but in the text itself. VPT’s aim is to discover the ways in which theatre can incorporate early-modern techniques (candle-light, gesture, etc.) into modern performances, as well as remind our audiences why 500-year old plays are still relevant and exciting. The cast includes Irena Huljak as the titular Duchess; Philip Lortie as her obsessive brother, Ferdinand; and Kyle McDonald as the spy, Bosola.

The Duchess of Malfi tells the story of an aristocrat who chooses to marry for love despite the warnings of her over-protective brothers. When her violent kindred discover her transgression, they raise hell in almost every sense of the expression, triggering a series of murders, accidents, and revenges– each more horrific and extreme than the last. The result is an onslaught of ghosts, severed hands, mistaken identities, poisonings, werewolves, madmen, and corpses.

Beyond modernizing the production, VPT couples the breakdown of power and social order with a literal power outage. The characters’ attempts to navigate their world amidst the oppressive heat and stench of their Italian summer is all-too-familiar, especially in light of Toronto’s infamous garbage strike.

Tickets to the preview performance (Aug 24 at at the Walmer Centre Theatre) are $8.00 ($6.00 for students and seniors). Aug 25-27 performances are $10 ($8.00 for students and seniors), and Aug 28-29 performances are $12.00 ($10.00 for students and seniors). To reserve seats, please email dan@vilepasseisttheatre.com or call (647) 828-7713.

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