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A Yorkshire Tragedy

"Not so New as Lamentable and True" (published subtitle)

By Thomas Middleton

Directed by Luciana S. Fernandes

Performed in the Barbara McIntyre Studio, Phoenix 21-23 March 2018

 

Photography: Chris Hawkins

A.D.: Justin Francis Lee

Fight direction: Jeffrey Renn

Stage manager: Kelsey Ward

Sound design: Logan Swain 

Lighting design: Glen Shafer

Set and costumes: Michelle Ning Lo

CW: domestic violence

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This play is a domestic tragedy: it brings us right in the middle of couple’s affairs. By making us the bystanders, it forces us to confront our role in such stories-- and the problem is far from solved. The play challenges us to confront our assumptions of where we stand in this, how much are we willing to take ownership over, who do we side with, who do we blame, who we give centre stage to?

Complete with elaborate fight scenes and an added scene of haunting where the murdered son comes to curse the house and take his baby brother with him, it is still an action-packed experience, but one that allows no victim erasure.

 

A Yorkshire Tragedy is as deeply dissatisfying and uncomfortable as it is painfully relevant and familiar. This play tells a true crime story about domestic violence and addiction.

This play was too accurate to the experiences of many who are near and dear to me. When I looked for further first hand sources and accounts of domestic violence survivors in the present (2015-8), personal accounts and the 2014 #whyIstayed #whyileft hashtag campaign; it was enraging how many of them mapped the Wife’s journey and perspective perfectly, making this play’s published subtitle ring as true now as it would have in the 1600s: “Not so New as Lamentable and True.”

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This play ends in what I find to be typical of Middleton: the final words are given to a character who is not truly affected by the tragedy, who does not know half as much as the audience does, and who tries to refocus the complex  personal tragedy we just witnessed into a contrived moralistic statement that contradicts entirely the action/ images on stage.

As the final speech was delivered, the lights faded except for a spot light that followed the wife, as she slowly moved around a catwalk and set of stairs, injured, into her home. As she moved, and while the final lines were still delivered, sounds of her traumatic memories played, increasing in volume and overlapping into a cacophony, until she entered the house and it cut drastically-- we heard the silence of the now empty home where her three children were murdered.

The lights cut midway a long visceral scream that we  continued to hear in the blacked out theatre, sharing in the burden of her pain.

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