Show: It’s True, It’s True, It’s True
Venue: Underbelly Bristo Square
Star rating: *****
Reviewer: Remmy Fillip
One stage, which the imagination turns alternatively into a painterʼs workshop, a courtroom, or the carefully constructed setting of a classical painting. Three actors, transforming themselves before our eyes into victim, aggressor, judge, witness – all with such subtle skill that the viewer recognises the change of character from a mere shift in mannerisms. A simple, perhaps even austere setup, but one expertly brought to life by the script and performance of the Breach Theatre Company.
The premise of Itʼs True, Itʼs True, Itʼs True is straightforward: the plot follows the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi, accused of the rape of Artemisia Gentileschi. The latter is now considered one of the most talented artists of her time, particularly for her depictions of strong female figures from religion and mythology, infusing her works with the anger and thirst for revenge that this traumatic incident imprinted on her. At the time of the trial, however, she could not escape her condition: before society could see her as a painter, it saw her as a woman, and women were not believed, they were not respected, they were blamed for their attackersʼ actions. “I am not the one on trial”, Artemisia says at one point, and yet, that is exactly how it feels: she is the one being punished, again and again.
It is infuriating to notice how something that happened 400 years ago can feel so recent, but the performance delivers this hard truth masterfully: watching and listening to Agostino Tassiʼs character, you see every entitled, arrogant man trying to discredit his victim and charm his way back into public approval. In Artemisiaʼs voice, you hear the frustration of centuries of women trying to relate the truth of their lived experiences. The intrusive, needlessly personal questioning of the judges, the false testimony of the witnesses, everything conspires to allow the accused to preserve his honour and his career – much more important, in everyoneʼs eyes, than those of his female victim.
There is hope, however: despite the 17th-century setting, the show radiates a very contemporary riot grrl energy, an attitude of courage and defiance that leaves the viewers with a powerful message: in the end, those who deserve it will end up on the right side of history, even when our human nature condemns us to repeat it.
It’s True, It’s True, It’s True: tickets available here
Underbelly Bristo Square
1pm (1 hour)