'Tis a Pity She's a Whore

Diane Mountford

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'Tis a Pity She's a Whore
Classical Actors Ensemble, at the Walker Community Church, Minneapolis

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There's no question that 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore is a twisted play—it's basically one scene of cannibalism away from achieving taboo bingo. John Ford's 17th-century revenge drama has mutilations, a corrupt state and church, poisoning, and, at its core, a love affair between brother and sister that leads to pregnancy and ends with a human heart skewered on a knife. This definitely-not-family-time drama gets an entertaining reading from the Classical Actors Ensemble, who craft a sort of original-practice presentation at the Walker Community Church. Instead of replicating the exact 17th-century style, they present a modern show inspired by that action, so the actors are in modern-day dress, and when they sing between acts, it's songs by the likes of Mumford and Sons rather than "Greensleeves." The performers do solid work throughout, led by Erik Hoover and Sigrid Sutter as the brother and sister lovers, Giovanni and Annabella, who have plenty of spark together as lovers—until both of them are driven into the living hell they have created. The highlights are two of sister Annabella's suitors: Mark Knutson as the track-suit-wearing fool Bergetto, and Brandon Ewald, who plays main rival Soranzo as an amoral cad unable to express much more than his anger. The play is overstuffed with plotting and revenge, and that can become murky, though director Joseph Papke mainly keeps the path clear and the energy so high that by the finale—described as "when the shit hits the fan" on the run sheet—the show fairly crackles, especially Giovanni's final, blood-soaked entrance. $14-$24. 7:30 Thursday through Saturday. 3104 16th Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.722.6612; www.classicalactorsensemble.org. Through November 20

 
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