The Mysterious Mr Webster (2014)
59min · Biography · 24 May 2014
The story of the son of a coach-maker with a highly developed sense of the macabre, who ended up rivalling Shakespeare. John Webster's life was shadowy and his plays darkly imagined - it was once said that he 'saw the skull beneath the skin'. But his masterpiece The Duchess Of Malfi is one of the jewels of the English Renaissance. This gothic tale of forbidden love, intrigue, betrayal and murder is the most frequently performed play of the period not written by Shakespeare. In this documentary, Professor James Shapiro goes in search of the mysterious man behind the play. Piecing together the fragments of Webster's life, he explores how he came to write it just at the moment when the Jacobeans were inventing modern indoor theatre. On hand to help is Gemma Arterton, who plays the Duchess in The Globe candlelit production which can be seen on BBC Four.