A couple of weeks ago we signed up to Netflix, and I’ve ended up watching lots of amazing costume dramas that I hadn’t already seen. one such programme was The Devils Whore.
Set during the English civil war from 1642 to 1660, based on the story on the fictional Angelica Fenshawe this costume drama has a little for everyone. There are fabulous costumes, exciting battle scenes and sex scenes galore.
If you want to know more about the civil war or any of the non fictional characters then this really isn’t the series for you. It is based so loosely on any kind of truth that your historical knowledge will not be improved by watching this! However it is a throughly enjoyable watch with some amazing scenery, actors and costumes.
The cast cannot be faulted. Ever since seeing The Wire I have been a huge fan of Dominic West and his portrayal of Oliver Cromwell is a masterpiece. He is serious, intense but also has a subtle air of sensitivity.
I am also a fan of John Simm who I know from Life on Mars and he makes a great Edward Sexby. I would never have thought to have cast him in such a gritty role, but with the right rugged costumes and made up scars he makes the perfect rebellious rogue. The balance between blood thirsty fighter and lover is intriguing.
Once you have stopped being stunned by Andrea Riseborough stunning beauty, you cannot help but find her character the fictional Angelica Fenshawe convincing and intriguing. There is a perfect balance between the fictional drama and an impression of what life was like and a seventeenth century woman, wife and aristocrat.
I also thought Peter Capaldi’s Charles I was exactly as I’d imagined him to be and his manerisms were spot on. I was facinated by John Lilburne as played by Tom Goodman-Hill.
I have read a lot of negative reviews of The Devil’s Whore. The main argument against it is the offence people take to its abuses of historical truth. So in many ways I was very lucky that I know very little of this period of history, only the basics really. This left me free to relish the beautiful costumes, fantastic plot and exciting drama.
I liked most that the story focussed on all the key players during the civil war be it Charles I, Oliver Cromwell or Thomas Rainsborough. The conflicting interests and ideas of the main characters are what I believe gives this series its historic integrity. Although many of the events were factually inaccurate or even fictional it still gives a strong sence of the time in which it is set. You get the feeling of utter chaos as if getting the King off the Throne has just opened up the floodgates to conflicting ideas of what a leader should stand for.
In conclusion this is a great drama and very enjoyable but possibly not one for the die-hard historians out there. Has anyone else seen it? I’d love to know what you think.
You can watch the Devils Whore on 4OD here