“Webster saw the skull beneath the skin.” So said T. S. Eliot, and this spring Uranium Madhouse opens up the masterpiece of one of Shakespeare’s greatest contemporaries. Andrew Utter, artistic director, directs John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Sexy, tragic, occasionally sublime, and unapologetically macabre as it delves into the dark places of the soul, the play tells the story of the historical Giovanna d'Aragon, a young widow who secretly marries her steward, earning her brothers' wrath.
Utter invites audiences to join the cast “in a compact lab theater space, [which] provides the most direct access possible to Webster’s viscerally satisfying language and imagery, and to his vision of mortality as the true test of a person.” Enter into “a claustrophobic world defined by surveillance and conspiracy.”
400 years of distance all but disappear as Webster and Uranium Madhouse trouble the boundaries between private and public, leaving us no place to take refuge from a rapidly changing world. We may bleed for the noble duchess, but, face to face with her persecutors, we feel their agony as well. Face to face, and skull to skull.
Duchess runs from May 23 through June 1, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The Theater Asylum Lab is located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood 90038. Tickets are online, at the door. For further information and tickets, go to http://uraniummadhouse.org
Uranium Madhouse was founded in 2010 by Andrew Utter and Yolanda Seabourne with the mission of establishing the theater as a place for madness; that is, for passionate vitality, radical freedom from constraint, and the willingness to see what others cannot or will not. This is their third production, following their 2012 production of Brecht’s A Man’s a Man in a new translation by Utter.