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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Racine’

I almost always find Racine’s plays turgid, but this was a ‘new version’, it was in the lovely Donmar space and it had Anne-Marie Duff in it, so how could I not go? Well, she was the best thing about it, but sadly also about the only good thing about it.

Josie Rourke continues the penchant for re-configuration she started at the Bush. This time, the right side four rows becomes the back two rows, the stage is sand and there’s a walkway over the top which looks like c.50 chairs glued together. When you take your seat, with sand falling from the ceiling, it looks beautiful, but after the play starts it all seems a bit pointless. The temptation to tell the actors to use the short stairs at the left rather than walk all the way over the top and down was very hard to resist.

Berenice’s proposed marriage to Titus makes infatuated Antiochus distraught. It’s quashed for political reasons (Emperor Titus marry a foreign queen – I don’t think so!) but Antiochus’ love remains unrequited. No-one marries anyone and that’s about it really – though it takes 100 minutes to tell you that and that’s where it fails as a play;  it’s very dull and doesn’t sustain its length.

The ‘new version’ by Alan Hollingshurst doesn’t really add or take away anything. Stephen Campbell Moore seems more like a school teacher than an Emperor and Dominic Rowan more like a civil servant, both devoid of passion. You spend most of the time waiting for people to make the irritatingly long walk across the top and down onto the stage.

Luckily for the Donmar, there wasn’t an interval.

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