‘Dutchess of Malfi’ brings bloody betrayal to Long Beach

Written in 1612 by English playwright John Webster, the play tells the story of the duchess of Malfi. Later she secretly marries a man beneath her class, and when her brothers find out, they do anything necessary to take away her wealth and power, but it ends in tragedy for all involved. She’s a widow who is left with a lot of wealth and political power following the death of her husband. Clare, a widely recognized Shakespeare specialist who established the MA Classical Acting Course at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, explained that, because of this play’s complex characters, he thinks it has a lot in common with the Bard’s best psychological tragedies. With this wealth and power she seeks to establish herself in a world dominated by men.

“It’s interesting to me because it’s all still very relevant.” She further describes the duchess as a woman hundreds of years ahead of her time struggling to be a great ruler and mother.And while the play was written centuries ago, Granata-Hunicutt sees many similarities to today’s political climate.“Given the energy in the country in the last week, I think it’s a really interesting coincidence that the story is about corrupt men in power trying to suppress and squelch the woman who is in power,” she said.
shows on Saturday and Dec. Where: Studio Theatre at Cal State Long Beach, 1200 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach. Tuesdays through Saturdays with additional 2 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. 10 and 11. Tickets: $14-$17. When: Opens 8 p.m. Information: 562-985-5526, www.calrep.org.

It’s an exciting story, but it’s a psychological thriller as well,” said Rob Clare, a former actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company. “What’s not to like about love, death and violence? This is a bloody and tragic macabre play driven by family betrayals and political greed.And it does not end well for anyone. But there’s a reason “The Duchess of Malfi” has been around for more than 400 years and why an acclaimed Shakespearean expert is directing it at Cal State Long Beach. 11. Clare is directing the Cal State Long Beach Theatre Arts Department production of the dark Jacobean-era play that runs at the Studio Theatre from Friday to Dec.

For Julie Granata-Hunicutt, who takes on the lead role of the duchess, the play is not only unique for the period because of the lead character, it also has some eerie connections to recent political events. “To me it fits beautifully alongside some of Shakespeare’s work,” he said. “There really aren’t any true tragic heroes that are women,” said Granata-Hunicutt. “There aren’t really any heroines that subscribe to all of the components, who have a real arc and who have all these qualities of a tragic hero except for the duchess.”