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The Duchess of Malfi Photo Gallery

With thanks to Tony Rabbit, Production Designer of The Duchess of Malfi,
for permission to use these photos on the site; all photos © Tony Rabbit.

(Text from The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, edited by John Russell Brown)



Antonio (Matt Wilson), the Cardinal (Cameron Rhodes), Pescara (Peter Daube), a servant (Jonathan Hodge), Duchess (Sophia Hawthorne), Roderigo (Nigel Collins), Cariola (Robyn Malcolm)

The company stands "off stage" behind the plastic "curtain".

Ferdinand (Benjamin Farry), the Duchess, and the Cardinal

The Duchess and her brothers in a family vignette behind the curtain.

Ferdinand coerces Bosola (Michael Hurst) to spy on the Duchess.

Ferdinand:  There's gold.

Bosola responds

Bosola:  So:
What follows?  Never rained such show'rs as these
Without thunderbolts in the tail of them.
Whose throat must I cut?

The Duchess' brothers warn her not to marry again.

:  You are a widow:
You know already what man is, and therefore
Let not youth, high promotion, eloquence--

Cardinal:  No, nor anything without the addition, honour,
Sway your high blood.

The Duchess responds.

Duchess:  Will you hear me?  I'll never marry.

Cardinal:  So most widows say;
But commonly that notion lasts no longer
Than the turning of an hour-glass; the funeral sermon
And it end both together.

But the Duchess wants to marry Antonio.

Duchess:  I sent for you.  Sit down.

Antonio accuses Bosola of poisoning the Duchess to account for the sickness that is actually caused by her secret pregnancy.

Antonio:  Saucy slave!  I'll pull thee up by the roots.

But Bosola finds evidence that the Duchess has had a child.

Bosola:  A child's nativity calculated!

The Cardinal has an interlude with Julia, his paramour.

Cardinal:  Kiss me

Antonio expects to spend the night with his secret wife.

Antonio:  I must lie here.

Duchess:  Must?  You are a lord of mis-rule.

Antonio:  Indeed, my rule is only in the night.

Ferdinand confronts his sister when he learns that she has secretly married and had children.

Ferdinand:  The howling of a wolf
Is music to thee, screech-owl.  Prithee, peace!

Bosola lights candles along both sides of the stage during interval to prepare the Duchess' torture room.

Bosola arrives to carry out Ferdinand's order to bring the Duchess to be tortured.

Duchess:  I am your adventure, am I not?

Bosola:  You are.

Bosola puts the Duchess in chains.

Bosola:  Now, by my life, I pity you.

Duchess:  Thou are a fool, then,
To waste thy pity on a thing so wretched
As cannot pity itself.--I'll go pray.  No,
I'll go curse.  I could curse the stars--
And those three smiling seasons of the year
Into a Russian winter, nay, the world to its first chaos.

Bosola:  Look, you, the stars shine still.

Ferdinand surrounds the Duchess with madmen to drive her mad.

Duchess:  What hideous noise was that?

Cariola:  'Tis the wild consort
Of madmen, lady, which your tyrant brother
Hath placed about your lodging.  This tyranny,
I think, was never practised till this hour.

Duchess:  Indeed, I thank him: nothing but noise and folly
Can keep me in my right wits, whereas reason
And silence make me stark mad.

Ferdinand orders Bosola to kill the Duchess; Bosola puts the rope around her neck.

Duchess:  Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength
Must pull down heaven upon me.

Despite his growing admiration for the Duchess' courage in the face of death, Bosola obeys Ferdinand's order.

Duchess:  Come, violent death,
Serve for mandragora to make me sleep!
Go tell my brothers when I'm laid out,
They then may feed in quiet.

Bosola kills the Duchess.


Ferdinand comes to see the Duchess' body

Ferdinand:  Is she dead?

Bosola:  She is what
You'd have her.
Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out;
The element of water moistens the earth,
But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens.

Ferdinand:  Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle.

Ferdinand:  Let me see her face again.--
Why dids't thou not pity her?  What an excellent
Honest man mightst thou have been
If thou hadst borne her to some sanctuary!
Or, bold in a good cause, opposed thyself
With thy advanced sword above thy head
Between her innocence and my revenge!
I bade thee, when I was distracted of my wits,
Go kill my dearest friend, and thou hast done 't.

Ferdinand:  By what authority didst thou execute
This bloody sentence?

Bosola:  By yours--

Ferdinand:  Mine?  Was I her judge?
Did any ceremonial form of law
Doom her to not-being?  Did a complete jury
Deliver her conviction up i' th' court?
Where shalt thou find this judgement registered
Unless in hell?  See, like a bloody fool,
Th' hast forfeited thy life, and thou shalt die for 't.

Bosola:  Let me know
Wherefore I should be thus neglected.  Sir,
I served your tyranny, and rather strove
To satisfy yourself than all the world;
And though I loathed the evil, yet I loved
You that did counsel it, and rather sought
To appear a true servant than an honest man.

Bosola:  What would I do, were this to do again?
I would not change my peace of conscience
For all the wealth of Europe.

Bosola goes to the Cardinal's lodging to begin his plot of revenge on the brothers; the Cardinal is working his own plots.

Cardinal:  This fellow must not know
By any means I had intelligence
In our Duchess' death; for, though I councilled it
The full of all th' engagement seemed to grow
From Ferdinand.

Julia comes on to Bosola after observing his "excellent shape".

Julia:  I have already suffered for thee so much pain,
The only remedy to do me good is to kill my longing.

In an effort to get information from her, Bosola returns the favor.

Bosola:  Let us grow most amorously familiar.
If the great Cardinal now should see me thus,
Would he not count me a villain?

Bosola gets Julia to question the Cardinal.

Bosola:  The Cardinal is grown wondrous melancholy;
Demand the cause.  Let him not put you off
With feigned excuse; discover the main ground on 't.

Bosola has killed Antonio by mistake.

Bosola:  Antonio! 
The man I would have saved 'bove mine own life!

Bosola vows revenge on the Arogonian brothers; he threatens the Cardinal.

Bosola:  I am come to kill thee.

Bosola kills Ferdinand by knifing him in the groin.

Bosola:  Now my revenge is perfect:  Sink thou main cause
Of my undoing!

But Ferdinand has delivered Bosola a death wound as well.

Cardinal:   Thou hast thy payment too.

Bosola:  Yes, I hold my weary soul in my teeth;
'Tis ready to part from me.--I do glory
That thou, which stood'st like a huge pyramid
Begun upon a large and ample base,
Shalt end in a little point, a kind of nothing.

Malateste (Ora Simpson) with dead Ferdinand, Pescara, dying Bosola, dying Cardinal; the spirit of the Duchess at center back.

Bosola:  O, I am gone!
We are only like dead walls, or vaulted graves,
That, ruined, yields no echo.  Fare you well.
It may be pain, but no harm to me to die
In so good a quarrel.  O, this gloomy world!
In what a shadow, or deep pit of darkness,
Doth womanish and fearful mankind live!
Let worthy minds ne'er stagger in distrust
To suffer death or shame for that is just--
Mine is another voyage.





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