Tis Pity She’s a Whore at The Malthouse

Saw ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore at the Malthouse. Just a classic tale of incest and murder.

It was a less conventional performance than I’ve seen in a while (I realise I’ve been spending too many of my cultural hours at the Arts Centre where things are preeeeety traditional). The stage was made of shipping crates, a ghostly singer wandered along the roof, and a guy you hope never to get stuck next to in a bar did weird stuff with puppets. And instead of being “oh, hmmm, I see what they were trying to do there” it was engrossing and gross and intense and funny and wonderful to look at for an hour and a half.

This guy over at The Age didn’t love it. I wonder if his criticism was motivated by his longing to say , “Tis Pity She’s a Bore”. Dude, we all thought of it and threw it away because it was just.too.easy. Anyway, gratuitous, shallow, insubstantial – maybe. Boring – not at all.

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2 thoughts on “Tis Pity She’s a Whore at The Malthouse

  1. benjamin

    Yeah I think The Age is the new Herald Sun (‘look at my wordplay, aren’t I clever?’) – not sure what that means for the Herald Sun, but don’t be surprised if you see page 3 girls soon.. 🙂

  2. Eden

    Unlike the rather cutting commentary of the Age which declares the set as evidence of poor funding to the Malthouse, I found the modern shipping crates meets Elizabethan Fresco and play like furniture atop an interesting visual feast. If a critic, or any theatre goer for that matter, decides that a theatrical set is lacking, the plea to throw more money at it strikes me as deeply problematic and terrifyingly unimaginative. Which is exactly what Potts is accused of in this case.

    Potts’ dramatrugical choices made in staging the play ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore’ however, certainly mystified me upon seeing this production. Certainly, incest remains a taboo within our society and something which deserves artistic exploration. However a dramatisation of the restraints of sexual norms, forced marriage, women with no choice but to marry or be whore – I couldn’t help but feel were being presented as a means of milking soap box drama, rather than considering the social implications of restrictive sexual politics in a complex modern world where absolute truths are on the decline.

    I also question the artistic integrity of staging theatrical depictions of domestic violence and unabashed sexism within the constrained setting of Elizabethan times. Perhaps it is more comfortable for viewers to digest sexism within a culturally removed and outdated context, then to stage plays which explore these ongoing social problems in a way which is rife and relevant to today’s problems and imaginative ways in which we can address and problem solve them in the here and now.

    The character ‘B’ and his puppetry alongside dirty pub talk attempted to do this as a black comedy interlude between the more traditionally acted Elizabethan scenes. However I felt that as an opportunity to provide a spliced commentary it lacked balance, philosophical maturity a genuine opportunity to belly laugh. Comedy is always funnier when the displaced and the dejected are given a platform to mock their oppressor. However when the oppressor is given airplay to make fun of their dejected, (in this case a narcissistic sexist pub crawler ridiculing women) one struggles to justify their paid attendance, let alone the opportunity to laugh.

    p.s. Thanks for the opportunity to get on my soap box Sarah – I’ve been pondering this play for a while now…

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