'Tis Pity She's A Whore, Southwark Playhouse, London

A new production company, "nevertheless", performs in a hushed and concentrated Cheek by Jowl manner - no surprise given that the director, Edward Dicks, is an acolyte of Declan Donnellan and has been able to command the considerable "cheeky" talents of movement director Jane Gibson, lighting designer Rick Fisher and composer Paddy Cunneen.

So, the tragedy begins with a dead march "Kyrie" and the characters, dressed in Armani suits, are pinned to the floor by Fisher's lights like specimens under glass. Charlie Cox's ferret-like Giovanni conveys the full, scratchy hopelessness of a doomed love.

In the last London production, at the Young Vic six years ago, a fairly famous Jude Law and a remarkable newcomer, Eve Best, were like an over-age Romeo and Juliet. Cox and his Annabella - a performance of real emotional guts and wide-eyed passion by Mariah Gale - are more natural, and therefore more affecting.

As always with small-scale versions of this play, the editing messes up the sub-plot and deletes too many good characters. The scheming adulteress Hippolita (Sarah Paul), for one, is reduced to a shouting harpy. But Laurence Fox's startling, fastidious Soranza survives to make his journey from acceptable husband to raging avenger, and Janet Spencer-Turner is a sexy, slyly treacherous Putana. The bloody banquet at the end is wound up well enough, Giovanni holding his sister's heart like a slippery slab of raw liver.

The greatness of Ford's play, apart from its modern starkness of poetry and prose, lies in the humanity with which he shows the tragic obsession. If this unspeakable love is so powerful, who is not susceptible? The production honours this central quality while avoiding the outer limits of Ford's social tumult.

To 22 October (0870 060 1761)

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