The Old Vic
If this play were an animal it would be so sharp-clawed
and with the taste of blood upon its teeth;
it would carry a dagger in each paw and hide itself
deep in the shadows of the night.
Such a creature could be hid from, but what we have here
is a world, and all-encompassing: a tall and terrifying place
where love and innocence are but a name
and count for naught;
and here, hidden well in incense smell and candlelight
there lurks a penalty of death and blood,
incest and cruelty; a secret hid in every pocket
and a knife clasped cruelly at every throat.
There is a lesson here of terror, life pulled taught
and strained almost to breaking point by treachery,
treason and torments, vipers poised between palace and prison,
poison, pain, and the fear of blood.
The Duchess of Malfi plays until 9 June at the Old Vic