Jet Theatre, The Deceived

Review in Issue 11-1 | Spring 1999

Jet Theatre’s production of The Deceived (Gli’ingannati in its native Italian) is the play’s first professional staging in this country since its original performance in 1532. In the sixteenth century it was a popular and well-known tale of cupidity, love and deception. So popular, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (written some seventy years later) unashamedly poached its central theme.

The striking difference between the two plays is the language. Where as Shakespeare renders his tale with comparative subtlety, the original story, as translated by Christopher Caims, is vulgar, mischievous and bawdy. The Deceived is a romp with huge scope for play.

Unfortunately, while Jet Theatre’s production is competent and on the whole enjoyable, it seems suffocated by Englishness. By this I mean a stereotypical style which favours charm and polite delivery over an indulgence in expletives and the thrill of sexual promise. With the exception of Stephen Ventura as the Spanish soldier and Chrissie Cotterillas as Isabella’s nurse – both of whom bask in their respective characterisations – The Deceived, directed by Kenneth Rea, never really seems to hit the right note. A text which revels gleefully in its crudity demands wholehearted passionate attack from its performers, to create characters which verge on caricature and fill the stage with largesse and gusto. In this case, when I felt I ought to be laughing uproariously I was merely smiling at this production’s predictability.

That said, The Deceived is a light-hearted adventure which helps put Shakespeare’s comedy into an interesting historical and literary perspective.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-1
p. 25