Shakespeare's Globe

The Honest Whore [1998]

Written by: Thomas Dekker (with Thomas Middleton)
Directed by: Jack Shepherd
Adapted by: Mark Rylance & Jack Shepherd

The distraught Hippolito tries to interrupt the funeral procession of his girlfriend Infelice, but is restrained by her father, the Duke of Milan. The Duke later reveals how he planned to keep Infelice and Hippolito apart. The courtiers arrive at Bellafront's brothel, dragging a reluctant Hippolito. Left alone together, he criticises her professsion, but she falls in love with him, promising to become an honest whore. The patient draper, Candido, is provoked, first by the courtiers, and then also by his wife Viola, desparate to see him angry. Bellafront's transformation proves unpopular with her regular customers. Matheo, her first client, refuses her plea to make an honest woman of her. She then declares her love to Hippolito but is rejected. In a last ditch attempt to provoke her husband to anger, Viola has Candido committed to Bethlem asylum. Hippolito learns the truth about the Duke's plot to keep him from Infelice, and makes plans of his own. But the Duke is on the scent, and he and his courtiers chase him to Bethlem. In a showdown at the asylum, he confronts Hippolito and compels Matheo to marry Bellafront, while the now remorseful Viola pleads for the release of her patient husband.

A number of years later, Matheo has been arrested for murder, and Bellafront pleads for his release. The Duke announces a crackdown on prostitution, but, at Hippolito's intercession, agrees to turn a blind eye to Matheo's part in the murderous brawl. Orlando, Bellafront's wealthy estranged father, diguises himself as a poor servingman, and starts work for Matheo, who is now a dissolute gambler. Hippolito, now married, makes unsuccessful advances to Bellafront, giving her a diamond. Orlando uses the gift to prove Hippolito's unfaithfulness to his wife. Matheo, now getting into heavy gambling debts, pawns the dress off his wife's back, demanding that she return to prostitution, which she resists. Orlando reveals Matheo's part in the robbery of two peddlars. Hippolito tries to lure Bellafront back to her old ways, but she runs away. Matheo throws a party, during which the innocent draper Candido is conned into buying stolen cloth. The police arrive and make several arrests. Hippolito is enraged to hear Bellafront has been arrested and taken to Bridewell prison. At Bridewell, she pleads for her husband Matheo (in trouble again), only for him to accuse her of planning the robbery, and of having an affair with Hippolito. Orlando reveals himself and gets her and Matheo off the hook. Candido, ever patient, is released.

CREATIVES AND PRODUCTION

  • Designer Hayden Griffin
  • Composer Jennie Muskett

CAST

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