To consider The Broken Heart as a soap opera is to fundamentally misconceive it. The author seemed clear enough that it was a tragedy and the text certainly sounds like a tragedy. The cast are not the problem. Each and every one attacks the play with verve and in the style chosen by director Chridtine Steinbeis. That the attack is misconceived is not down to them.
It is a slight, but quite beautiful, play, perfectly suited to the intimate grandeur of the space, and quite intoxicating, so perfectly judged is everything about it. . The gifted Sam Crane takes on the acting burden of Farinelli , but when it comes time to sing, he is either joined onstage or replaced there by Purefoy, costumed precisely to match Crane. Purefoy has a strong, rich and agile counter-tenor. He is a delight to hear.
Dromgoole’s production is detailed and clear, effortlessly moving from the sombre and macabre world of Beatrice-Joanna to the lighter, albeit equally odd, world of Isabella. Hattie Morahan is sheer delight as Beatrice-Joanna. Sarah MacRae is a luminous actress and her work here as Isabella adds further to the lustrous work she delivers.