Friday, 20 March 2009

More on Madame De Sade

What did I say last time? "It's going to be good."

And, yes, my press seat in row E certainly was. Next to another critic, it was one of the best in the house, and I'm very, very grateful to my boss for handing it over.

However, I wrote "it's going to be good" with regards to the play. And I'm sad to say it wasn't. It took a while, but I finally pulled my ideas into a review for londonist. And other people agreed:
The Times's two stars: "It's lead, gilded lead, highly decorated lead, but still lead."
The Guardian's three stars: "The acting and staging are breathtaking, the play itself is an example of the Higher Tosh"
The Whingers: "It should have served as something of a warning to the Whingers that Madame de Sade was written by Yukio Mishima whose own ritual disembowelment and decapitation (aka seppuku) was severely botched and mocked. Why did he do it? Perhaps he had been obliged to sit through his play once too often."
And so on.

Not many of them talked about the projections on the back of the set. Word counts and lots to say and top-line opinions and all that.

But, given the sumptuous set and all that jazz, I found it really distracting from all that talking, which was, incidentally, where the drama was supposed to be, according to the programme notes:
…the narration is advanced by Racinian tirades - often lengthy descriptions given by a character of some event or perception. Mishima believed that the dialogue itself created the drama and that the brilliance of the costumes and the extravagance of the period would add the necessary visual appeal. (With thanks to the Whingers.)
So, Anna, the little sister is chatting about being in Venice. But not without a ripply water feature on the back wall. There's a description of a fire: cue barely discernible flames rippling, a bit like the water did, on the back wall. And there's a retelling of a riot; so let's have some mismatched images projected... on the back wall.

It really doesn't help when you are trying to listen to the pretty inscrutable, heavy dialogue that keeps coming at you like a barrage of so many fat, unread, improving non-fiction novels on philosophy and morality and more.

Enough already. Either you believe, with Mishima, in the drama of the dialogue, or you don't.

And if you don't, why are you putting on this play again??

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