The Duchess of Malfi
by John Webster

John Webster - The Duchess of Malfi

BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 12th October 2008 @ 8:00 p.m.

The evils of greed and ambition overwhelm love, innocence, and the bonds of kinship in this dark tragedy concerning the secret marriage of a noblewoman and a commoner. "The Duchess of Malfi" is one of the great Jacobean plays, and this new adaptation by Roy McMillan focuses on the personal tragedies of a powerful family ripped apart by lust and betrayal.

When the widowed Duchess marries her steward Antonio, the choice challenges the accepted social order and established lines of power. It also brings her into direct conflict with her powerful brothers, the Duke Ferdinand and the scheming Cardinal, and tragedy ensues.

A macabre, tragic play, John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" was written in 161213. It was first performed privately at the Blackfriars Theatre, then before a more general audience at The Globe, in 1613-14. Published for the first time in 1623, the play is loosely based on true events that occurred between about 1508 and 1513, recounted in William Painter's The Palace of Pleasure (1567). The Duchess was Giovanna d'Aragona, whose father, Arrigo d'Aragona, Marquis of Gerace, was an illegitimate son of Ferdinand I of Naples. Her husbands were Alfonso Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi, and (as in the play) Antonio Bologna.

Adapted for radio by Roy McMillan from John Webster's 1613 play, "The Duchess of Malfi".

With Sophie Okonedo [The Duchess of Malfi, a Widow, Afterwards Secretly Married to Antonio], Rory Kinnear [Antonio Bologna, Steward of the Duchess's Household], Jonathan Slinger [Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria and Twin Brother to the Duchess], Oliver Senton [The Cardinal, Elder Brother to the Duchess and Duke], Bertie Carvel [Daniel de Bosola, Their Spy; Provisor of the Horse to the Duchess], Oliver Le Sueur [Delio, Antonio's Friend], Michael Griffiths [The Doctor], Becky Hindley [Cariola, Waiting Woman to the Duchess], Rachel Bavidge [Julia, Wife to Castruchio, and Mistress to the Cardinal], Paul Panting [The Marquis of Pescara, a Soldier], Nicholas Gadd [Roderigo, a Courtier at Amalfi / The Executioner], and Francis Middleditch [Grisolan, a Courtier at Amalfi] / The Servant].

Other parts were played by members of the cast.

The music was composed and played by Arthur Ka Wai Jenkins.

Directed by Roy McMillan.

Produced by Nicolas Soames.

135 min.


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