Posts Tagged ‘Hannah Murray’

Though I saw this 1922 Jean-Jacques Bernard play (in the same John Fowles adaptation) at the NT in 1985, I can’t remember a thing about it, so I came to this first revival at the Finborough as if it were the first time. The small space, with audience on three sides, and a quintet of fine performances made it a most intimate and intense experience.

Martine and Julien meet by accident as the latter is walking by. They begin a doomed one-sided relationship, though we never know whether Julien breaks Martine’s heart because he wasn’t really in love or whether class and social conventions get in the way. Martine has to keep the secret with her broken heart, as Julien goes off with his fiancé Jeanne.

It’s a delicate and beautiful story but it doesn’t really sustain it’s 105 minute (unbroken) length and the sadness is completely overwhelming. I left the theatre even more exhausted than when I entered it, a weight of unbearable melancholy bearing down upon me that I struggled to shake off. Though this is in some ways a tribute to the quality of the production, it didn’t make for much enjoyment!

Tom Littler’s delicate production is faultless and Hannah Murray and Barnaby Sax are superb as Martine and Julien. There’s also excellent support from Susan Penhaligon, Chris Porter and Leila Crerar. I’m not sure the play is a match for their talents, though it may be that I didn’t have the coping skills to make it as rewarding an experience as others appear to have found it.

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