Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Le Misanthrope: Bristol Old Vic

The Old Vic is finally up and running and has come back with this updated version of Moliere's most famous play: The Misanthrope.  This version, translated in 1973 by Tony Harrison, has been updated so that Moliere's play of 17th century play of manners includes i-phones, e-mails and various references to the current French president Sarkozy!

The updating certainly works and the bitter comedy and its criticism of the duplicity of society is not lost in translation, we cannot help but both sympathise and laugh at Alceste (the protagonist) whose analysis of society is so clear and yet still manages to be tormented by his love for Celimene, a socialite who embodies all the falsity and vacuity he despises in others.

The ageing of Alceste in this production only seems to heighten his pathetic-ness but through all that Simon Armitage's rendition seems to lack a little variation, he rails. . .  and rails . . . (you guessed it) and rails against Armitage's rage-ridden Alceste the cool, charming and cruelty of Celimene is well evinced by Dorothea Meyer-Bennett.  Indeed she is the pretty social-climber we have all known at one point or another, yet perhaps the denouement allows the audience to condescend to pity . . . either way she is superbly portrayed in this unforgiving comedy.  Runs until Saturday 23rd October. 


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