Breach Theatre’s It’s True, It’s True, It’s True surpassed all my expectations of what a courtroom drama could be. Adapted from transcripts of the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi for the rape of baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, as they say in the opening scene ‘Everything that follows is true’.
The staging is effortless, with the three actors transitioning from character to character as they transform the moving set from position to position. To begin with, I fear the accounts will be hard to follow, since they feature several similar-sounding names. However, as the narrative develops, I am utterly enraptured.
The protagonist’s performance is truly outstanding, the experiences of her character at the hands of an archaic and at times literally torturous court system are quite simply horrific. You can hear the desperation and determination in her voice as she pleads directly to the audience: ‘It is true, it is true, it is true’ and I can see the tears rolling down the cheeks of many, many members of the audience along with my own.
A couple of break out moments from the stark and often harsh tone of the court proceedings provide light relief. Laugh out loud ‘sketches’ illustrating the content of Artemisia’s paintings at the time give audiences insight into both the greater cultural context of the trial, and the inner thoughts of her character.
Whilst many of the details and circumstances of the case and the way in which it was handled are shocking, many have also not been confined to the history books in the way one would hope they would have been by now, 400 years on. It’s True, It’s True, It’s True casts a spotlight on history and reflects contemporary culture back at us. It’s heart-breaking, eye-opening and truly gripping, I couldn’t recommend it more.