BBC Third Programme: World Theatre
Broadcast: Tuesday 16th February 1960
The action takes place at the end of the 16th century in Italy, first at Rome, but in the final act, at Padua.
A woman stands accused of being unfaithful. Webster's exotic and sensational story is a tale of bloody revenge, money and power gained by
ambition, blood and lust - a story we none of us can resist? Murder suspect put on trial. Madness, passion, infidelity - can you trust your
own brother? Husband and mistress in torrid affair.. Was her only crime to fall in love with a rich man? Brother and sister in suicide pact
attempt. Intrigue, deception, passion, murder and betrayal charts "The White Devil's" spiralling journey to damnation. Is she a woman
wronged? An innocent pawn in a game of power? Saint or sinner?
"The White Devil" is a revenge tragedy. The story itself is loosely based on a real event that occured in Italy 30 years prior to the play being
written - the murder of Vittoria Accoramboni in Padua on December 22, 1585. Webster's rewrite of this historical event focused on his
depiction of 'the political and moral state of England in his own day', being the corruption at the heart of the court.
The title of 'The White Devil' refers to a popular proverb at the time of Webster penning the play, being that "the white devil is worse than the
black." The play itself explores the idea of the difference between the reality of a person and the way they depict themselves as a good,
'white' or pure person.
Adapted by R. D. Smith from John Webster's 1612 play, "Vittoria Corombona or, the White Devil"
With Stephen Murray [Paulo Giordano Ursini, Duke of Brachiano (Husband to Isabella, and in love with Vittoria)], Margaret Whiting
[Vittoria Corombona, a Venetian Lady], Anthony Jacobs [Flamineo, Vittoria's Brother (Secretary to Brachiano)], Catherine Lacey
[Cornelia, Mother to Vittoria, Flamineo, and Marcello], Felix Felton [Cardinal Monticelso (afterwards Pope Paul IV)], George Hagan
[Francisco de Medici, Duke of Florence (in the 5th Act disguised for a Moor, under the name of Mulinassar)], John Mitchell [Giovanni,
Duke of Brachiano's Son by Isabella], Paul Hardwick [Lodovico, an Italian Count, but decayed], Frederick Treves [Antonelli, a Friend of
Lodovico], John Hollis [Gasparo, a Friend of Lodovico], Ian Holm [Camillo, Husband to Vittoria], Leigh Crutchley [Hortensio, one of
Brachiano's Officers], John Scott [Marcello, an Attendant of the Duke of Florence, and Brother to Vittoria], Patricia Kneale [Isabella, Sister
to Francisco de Medici, and Wife to Brachiano], Tobi Weinberg [Zanche, a Moor, Servant to Vittoria], Malcolm Hayes [Doctor Julio],
George Merritt [Lawyer], Gabriel Woolf [Servant to Francisco], Catherine Salkeld [Matron of the House of Convertities], Richard
Humphrey [Cardinal of Arragon], and Beth Boyd [Singer].
Also taking part were the following members of the BBC Radio Drama Repertory Company: David Bird, Philip Cunningham, Hugh
Manning, John Rye, John Rollason, Douglas Storm, Keith Williams, Charles Simon and Nicky Edmett.
Music composed and conducted by Marcus Dodds
Produced by R. D. Smith
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