Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Misanthrope by Moliere, translated by Martin Crimp, Comedy Theatre, 7-Dec-2009 – directed by Thea Sharrock

I wonder if people's pre-conceptions about Keira Knightley will colour how they see her in this production. I suppose it did in my case. She isn't an actress that really interests me but I would acknowledge that well directed and well scripted she can be good even very good. In this production I would say that she easily held her own and didn't look out of place -in what was a good cast - but I am aware that that might say things about the production rather than her performance.
I saw a version of this translation, which is a contemporary update of Moliere's play, at the Young Vic in 1996 and recall enjoying it. The script has been updated with new cultural references and with a vicious attack on a Tory leader replacing a tamer attack on an adulterous Tory MP in the old version. What wasn't updated was the elaborate attack on David Hare's play Skylight – the play/scene that the critic Covington (played by Tim McMullan) is hawking about is a very unflattering summary of Skylight. Unfortunately I was seemed to be one of only a few people to get this joke. Maybe the author couldn't find a recent play that has both captured the imagination in the way that Skylight did and is as ripe for satire.
This was an early preview so hopefully certain things will get ironed out as the actors get used to the play and playing the audience. In the first half I found the rhyming a bit relentless and overbearing. This certainly improved over time and by the end of the play I either didn't notice the rhyming or didn't mind when I did. I also thought that some of the jokes fell a bit flat, there would always be some laughter but nothing huge. There were certainly a number of pauses where I got the impression that the actors were waiting for some non-existent laughter to die down (of course they could just have been pauses). It was also a little disconcerting when sometimes the cast were laughing louder than the audience. This sort of thing tends to work itself out as the actors get a more accurate idea of where the laughs are so I'm not sure I'd worry about it.
The play improved massively after the interval when the play took a darker turn and by the end I decided that I'd enjoyed myself.

1 comment:

Ian said...

There was much raucous laughter last night, so either they've gotten better or the audience was much less discerning! Either way, I found little to make me smile, I really wasn't a fan.

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