Love's Sacrifice was Matthew Dunster's debut with the RSC - this powerful tragedy was written by John Ford, probably first published in 1633.
The 2015 production, directed by Mathew Dunster, played at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon between April and June 2015.
Struck by love at first sight, the Duke of Pavia has married the beautiful Bianca. But he's not the only one who loves her. Unknown to him, his best friend Fernando has also fallen for Bianca, and with each day that passes he finds it harder to conceal his true feelings.
While the Duke is unaware of his friend's dilemma, his sister soon realises what is happening. Racked with jealousy by her own desire for Fernando, she begins to manipulate her brother, encouraging him to act against his friend. With echoes of Shakespeare's Othello, John Ford's rarely performed play is a thrilling revenge tragedy powered by the destructive force of unrequited love.
It is two years into the reign of the new, young Duke of Pavy. Fernando, best friend to the Duke, returns from travelling abroad and is introduced to the Duke's beautiful new wife, Bianca.
Fiormonda, the Duke's recently widowed sister, takes a fancy to Fernando and secretly asks her brother's secretary, D'Avolos, to pursue him on her behalf. Fernando rejects her advances, claiming he has vowed to stay single.
In truth, Fernando is falling for Bianca, and is struggling to conceal his true feelings.
The Duke remains unaware of Fernando's desires, but D'Avolos soon becomes suspicious. He spies on Fernando and sees him passionately confess his love to Bianca. D'Avolos reports this to Fiormonda and they conspire to stir up the Duke's jealousy and anger.
Elsewhere, the lord Roseilli has been banished for his romantic advances to Fiormonda. He disguises himself as a fool and is given as a gift to Fiormonda by the buffoonish Mauruccio.
Colona, Julia and Morona have all been seduced and made pregnant by Ferentes. When they discover his infidelity, the three women plot their revenge.
Justice and revenge
D'Avolos shares his suspicions about Fernando with the Duke, who cannot believe that Fernando would betray him.
Meanwhile, Bianca's uncle has been made a Cardinal by the Pope, so the Duke hosts a celebratory masque acted out by members of the court. Colona, Julia and Morona take the opportunity to mete out justice to Ferentes.
Racked by her own desire for Fernando, Fiormonda continues to goad her brother into taking action against both his friend and his wife to preserve his royal family's honour.
As the Duke's faith in Fernando and Bianca is chipped away, the situation approaches breaking point, and he must decide what to do next...
Andy Apollo - Ferentes
Sheila Atim - Julia
Guy Burgess - Nibrassa
Beth Cordingly - Fiormonda
Geoffrey Freshwater - Abbot
Marcus Griffiths - Roseilli
Rhiannon Handy - Colona
Simon Hedger - Guard
Julian Hoult - Attendant
Matthew Kelly - Mauruccio
Jamie Thomas King - Fernando
Jonathan McGuinness - D'Avolos
Annette McLaughlin - Morona
Matthew Needham - Duke of Pavy
Richard Rees - Petruchio
Colin Ryan - Giacapo
Nav Sidhu - Attendant
Catrin Stewart (pictured) - Bianca
Gabby Wong - Attendant
Director - Matthew Dunster
Designer - Anna Fleischle
Lighting - Lee Curran
Music - Alexander Balanescu
Sound - Ian Dickinson
Movement - Charlotte Broom
Video - Dick Straker