Pros: Some strong performances from the actors and despite the tragic nature of the play some laughs thanks to great comic timing.
Cons: Really poor visibility when the actors knelt or lay down meant you missed lots of the action (and we were only in the third row).
Thérèse Raquin is a play by French author Émile Zola, which tells the story of a young woman, unhappily married to her first cousin by an overbearing aunt. Thérèse’s husband Camille is sickly and egocentric and she spends much of her life in an unhappy silence living the life that others have ordained for her. Enter Camille’s enigmatic friend Laurent who decides to seduce Thérèse. They enter into a turbulent and passionate affair with disastrous consequences.
Overall I thought that this was a good attempt at a complex and multi-layered story, however, some of the nuances of emotion were lost so it made the desperate lengths the lovers are willing to go to more difficult to identify with.
The acting was a good standard throughout. Thérèse and Laurent’s relationship was honest and believable particularly during the passionate scenes and when it starts to fall apart at the end. The actor who played the elderly Grivet stole the show though injecting some much needed comedy into proceedings.
The set was simple but worked well. A table and chairs for the kitchen and a crate with a duvet for the bedroom. A washing line strung across the stage was a constant reminder of the domesticity that dominates Thérèse’s life. Good use of lighting to move between the scenes and set changes were slick.
Unfortunately the rake of the seating in the theatre meant that those not sitting on the first row had an extremely limited view as soon as any of the action went to the floor towards the front of the stage. The director obviously hadn’t considered this as quite significant chunks of the play were staged there.
This disappointing detail aside, there was a good quality of acting on show in this piece, tackling a difficult and complex story with bravery and competence. Although I would have liked some more subtlety of performance and audience awareness in the blocking, on the whole this was an entertaining evening and substantial production.
This production has now finished its run.
Dramatised/Directed by: Sarah Chapleo
Producer: Fox Theatre.