Jump to content


Passion Play


  • Please log in to reply
73 replies to this topic

#11 mallardo

mallardo

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 893 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:27 AM

There's a programme note linking Peter Nichols' play with similar "adultery" plays by middle-aged men, namely Pinter's Betrayal and Stoppard's The Real Thing.  Alas, if only Passion Play were as dramatic and inventive as those pieces.

But like those pieces, it has a gimmick.  In this case, the couple in question are both played by two actors.  Thus Eleanor is Zoe Wanamaker and Samantha Bond, James is Owen Teale and Oliver Cotton. It starts off with one being Action and the other being Thought - rather like Brian Friel's Philadelphia Here I Come - but soon the lines are crossed and the interior/exterior concept is discarded. The result is a bit of a muddle.  Lots of voices in conflict as two way arguments become four way arguments.  Sometimes it's all quite entertaining. And sometimes it's not.

There is only one femme fatale, thankfully and, as embodied by the drop dead gorgeous Annabel Scholey, she is rendered as a kind of male fantasy.  Not only is she sexually voracious, she's the aggressor in the courtship ritual, such as it is.  She takes what she wants and what she wants is a 50 year old, not particularly attractive art restorer who happens to be married.  All he has to do is lie back and enjoy it - until his wife finds out.  With her form fitting dresses and lacey knickers (or not) and endless legs and smouldering come-ons she is a middle-aged man's wet dream.  If only such creatures existed!

I was unconvinced, by the play and by the production. To be fair this was its 3rd performance and in a piece which often features an overcrowded stage and needs perfect timing and precision... well, it's not there yet. It's hard to judge the actors for similar reasons.  Suffice it to say that the ladies seemed to be well ahead of the men.

For conoisseurs of feminine pulchritude Ms Scholey provides reason enough to go, either to Richmond where I saw it or to the West End where it will soon be.  If you have a choice, I'd wait for the West End.  I'm sure it will get better.
Excuse me if I seem jejune
I promise I'll find my marbles soon.

#12 fringefan

fringefan

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 776 posts

Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:33 AM

Actually I'd just read a pretty positive review from the 2nd night's performance and was coming back here to say so, mallardo, when I read your review.  So a range of views already, but that's good, and as you say, given time, the production is bound to change - though based on the first review I read, I'd have been happy to see it a.s.a.p!

#13 Cat6

Cat6

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 157 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:US

Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:49 AM

Thank you for your review, Mallardo. I look forward to seeing PP. Even as a woman, I am interested in seeing pretty women on stage in provocative dress. Maybe too much so! I start reviewing, in my mind, their costume in relation to what's in my closet  ("Maybe I need a new lacy bra and pants set like that..."; or "Ooh, I really like those high, patent leather boots. I should try something like that!"). I freely admit this, something I have never seen admitted elsewhere. So consider me a pioneer B)

Now I'm going to look up the review fringefan found.

#14 Nicholas

Nicholas

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 331 posts

Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:25 AM

View Postmallardo, on 16 April 2013 - 07:27 AM, said:

There is only one femme fatale, thankfully and, as embodied by the drop dead gorgeous Annabel Scholey, she is rendered as a kind of male fantasy.  Not only is she sexually voracious, she's the aggressor in the courtship ritual, such as it is.  She takes what she wants and what she wants is a 50 year old, not particularly attractive art restorer who happens to be married.  All he has to do is lie back and enjoy it - until his wife finds out.  With her form fitting dresses and lacey knickers (or not) and endless legs and smouldering come-ons she is a middle-aged man's wet dream.  If only such creatures existed!

For conoisseurs of feminine pulchritude Ms Scholey provides reason enough to go, either to Richmond where I saw it or to the West End where it will soon be.  If you have a choice, I'd wait for the West End.  I'm sure it will get better.

Amen to that!  Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress Support already won.

One quibble I'd like someone's opinion on is the gender politics.  Nichols seemed to make the man as relatable, charming and guiltless as he could whilst his wife, the most interesting character, was rather sidelined and simplified (Wannamaker and Bond between them play (rather well) about 0.75 of a character) and the femme fatale was just a lust object (but boy, what a lust object!).  If I'm right, the best indictment is the fact that the drop dead gorgeous 20-something with a body to die for's characterisation begins and ends with "finds middle-aged, relatively unattractive man irresistable" (though Scholey rather humanises her).  I'd like to hear other people's thoughts.

As for the play as a whole, I felt more positively towards it than you, but it's rather unremarkable, isn't it?  I rather liked that trick of Thought and Action and I understood what Nichols was going for by making the dialogue fugal, though sometimes it just felt like talking over each other - that said, the internal monologue as dialogue was very well written.  Good cast elevates it.  The two men are good, though bizarre disjunct in haircuts - one balding, the other Heseltine.  Really, really great set.  Nichols' primary point is that, when betraying someone, you sometimes don't say the truth, and I've got to say that, despite never having been adulterous, I could have told you that before, and beyond that I think it's not got a lot to say, just a lot to show (when what it's showing is Ms Scholey...  I'm going to go have a cold shower and a lie down).  A rather mediocre play that occasionally really peps and that, by the West End, might pep a lot more, and about as three stars as a production can be.  That's not to take away from a rather enjoyable evening, but Betrayal it ain't.

#15 wickedgrin

wickedgrin

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1223 posts

Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:36 AM

Seeing this in Brighton next week - so will report my findings. Interested in mallardo's comments on this as I completely agreed with his comments on Before the Party at the Almeida.

#16 mallardo

mallardo

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 893 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:04 AM

Nicholas, we obviously share a taste for Ms Scholey. For me this study of an adulterous affair lacks seriousness because the deck is completely stacked by Peter Nicholls.  James cannot help but crumble in the face of such provocation - what man wouldn't?   Kate is a sexual dynamo and James is at the stage of his life where such a creature is absolutely irresistable.  She's like a Lorelei or a Siren - her call must be answered. James never would have acted on his own initiative.

In both Betrayal and The Real Thing one of the partners makes a decision to sleep with someone else and is wholly responsible for that decision.  I didn't feel that in Passion Play.  James is simply overwhelmed as the final - memorable - tableau makes clear.
Excuse me if I seem jejune
I promise I'll find my marbles soon.

#17 Cat6

Cat6

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 157 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:US

Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:29 PM

These things happen -- falling in love as if through an irresistable chemical whallop or through some spell of the gods. It happens in the Greek myth/ Molier play of "Phaedra". We saw the powerful Diana Rigg in this role, and her eponymous character was helpless in the love for her son-in-law.  Further, even Torchwood had an episode about pheremones making humans crazy, sexually helpless.

Similarly, in "Venus in Fur" on Broadway Hugh Dancy's character goes nuts over Nina Ariandy's. She is very sexy -- but so humorous!!! So it's not a hard, dry (in a manner of speaking) sexual appeal, but definitely one in which there is a lively glow of personality.

Would you say "sexual dynamo" Kate is pure hormone, or does she show a humorous side that James finds irresistable?

#18 mallardo

mallardo

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 893 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:48 PM

It's not that she is without humour but it's a weapon in her well-stocked arsenal.  It's not a "these things happen" scenario - would that it were. It would be more interesting to me.  She makes all the moves.  She goes after him knowing she is irresistable. He would never have taken the step on his own.  You can say, what's the difference?  He makes a choice.  But if and when you see the play you'll see how loaded the dice are against him.
Excuse me if I seem jejune
I promise I'll find my marbles soon.

#19 Cat6

Cat6

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 157 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:US

Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:53 PM

So you would say he has a choice? he's not just hooked like a fish?

#20 mallardo

mallardo

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 893 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 17 April 2013 - 03:14 PM

Yes, we always have choices, even in extreme circumstances, but in this case he would have to be Odysseus lashed to the mainmast to resist her.

And, btw, it has nothing to do with love.  Love as a concept is disparaged by James.  As the title says, it's about Passion.
Excuse me if I seem jejune
I promise I'll find my marbles soon.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users