May 1, 2000
Critically acclaimed translation becomes critically acclaimed book
By Barbara McKenna
The translation, which has received a steady stream of critical acclaim, benefits from Whitworth's dual sensibilities as an actor and director and as a scholar. The translation communicates Tirso's dramatic intent and at the same time manages to transfer into English the play's original cadences (including iambic pentameter) and rhyming schemes. The London Evening Standard noted, "There is considerable comedy and irreverent wit in Mr. Whitworth's translation, which contains the best rhyming couplets this side of Tony Harrison." A critic from the Independent on Sunday said, "Brilliantly translated by Paul Whitworth, the play dramatises lust, vengeance and parental grief alongside down-to-earth pleasures, and comic realism"
Both the London and California stagings of the play garnered accolades. In London it was named one of the "Five Best Plays" by the Independent on Sunday, while the Shakespeare Santa Cruz production won five Dramalogue Awards. Whitworth directed both productions and also played a leading role in Santa Cruz as King David.
Tirso de Molina lived from 1582 to 1648. A Mercedarian monk, he wrote popular plays for the public theaters of Madrid, the most famous of which is El Burlador de Sevilla, the first great dramatic treatment of the Don Juan story. According to Whitworth, "The Rape of Tamar is one of the most erotic plays of the Spanish Golden Age. It blends 17th-century Spanish revenge drama with a strange episode from the Old Testament, telling the story of the incestuous rape of Tamar by her half-brother Amnon."