‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore: Essentially Romeo and Juliet… with incest. John Ford’s reflection of the sins of seventeenth century British society is cleverly transferred to Padua to mock the audiences without them realising. Giovanni (Louis Catliff) has returned from University and confesses his love and lust for his sister, Annabella (Ellie Burke), for whom it is time to find a suitable husband and be wed. As a sick desire turns to incestuous passion, sins are uncovered and the morality of the crime at the centre is forced to be compared to its surrounding murder and greed.

What makes this production so refreshing is the ease of the dialogue’s delivery, maintaining a hearty beat, whilst executed in a manner whereby the performers fully absorb the text. Relationships aren’t always dealt with in depth, but the energy of the interactions allows for a complete understanding of the subtext. This is particularly evident during distressing scenes between Annabella and Soranzo (Joss Gillespie), and Annabella and the Friar (Noah Liebmiller).

Liebmiller plays the Friar as a flustered old man during his dialogues with Giovanni, yet transforms into a verbally abusive lecturer with Annabella, either emphasising his differing forms of treatment, or perhaps suggesting that Giovanni somehow has everyone, including the Friar, under his control. Hippolita (Hannah Raymond-Cox) dominates the stage with her heels and Vasquez (Jack Briggs) offers an academic intelligence – bordering on creepy – throwing himself into the mix for the true controller of the play’s unfolding events.

Giovanni and Annabella’s love-making scene is as uncomfortable as it is sensual. The nudity is natural and made absolutely necessary with its subtlety, and the thrusting which lasts long enough to cast a silent shock over the audience is choreographed with synchronised breathing culminating in a sick, yet wholly-passionate climax.

Ryan Hay as Director, has made major cuts, which unfortunately does cause the play to lose its underpinning comedic value, particularly through the complete elimination of Bergetto, who is only ever referenced to. As Puttana, Isabelle Duff offers some moments of comedy, however there is not quite enough to really allow an audience to judge themselves in the bloody end. The scene transitions are clunky and at times feel unnecessary and Sarah Chamberlain’s portrayal of the ‘ignorant’ Philotis makes very little sense as she bursts onto the stage with oozes of sass. Catliff’s delivery in the final scene, as he proclaims, ‘Tis a heart my lords’, confirms him to be cursed with sinister psychopathy, enabling ultimate pity for the ‘whore’ at the centre of the play.

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore is playing Paradise in Augustines until 20 August. For more information and tickets, see The Edinburgh Fringe website.