The White Devil

John Webster’s epic maelstrom, a Jacobean melodrama based on Italy’s debauched Medici family, isn’t so much whodunnit as when. Sooner or later, everyone is up to his or her eyeballs in treachery, either running the risk of murder or conspiring to commit one. Bracciano and Vittoria (Chris Macdonald and Annie Jantzer) opt to exterminate their mates as a token of mutual attraction. The murders of inconvenient spouses Isabella and Camillo come off with nary a hitch. But just as it seems the pair are on their way to newly wedded bliss, they’re tripped up by their very natures. This breakneck pace, coupled with Webster’s 17th-century syntax and the fact that several recently offed actors reappear in other, minor roles, can set the viewer’s head swimming. Also, setting the play during the McCarthy era works wonderfully in Vittoria’s interrogation scene, then the device fizzles out. The marvelous ‘50s score, full of doo-wop, cool jazz, and early rock ‘n’ roll favorites, only provides context, not insight. Where director Linda Lombardi succeeds best is in assembling an energetic, watchable cast that jets madly past. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Oct. 4. KEVIN PHINNEY

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Sept. 11. Continues through Oct. 4, 2008

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