Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thérèse Raquin

Now playing over at Studio 54 - Cousins marrying, murder, ghosts, an overbearing mother, sex, a stroke, and a double poisoning.   Just your average evening in the theatre for the talented cast of Roundabout's latest production of Therese Raquin

Making quite a substantial Broadway debut is the delightful Keira Knightley (Therese Raquin).  The ensemble generously supporting the titular character includes the stalwart Judith Light (Madame Raquin) and adorably obnoxious Gabriel Ebert (Camille Raquin) as the adopted family of Therese - her father died and her aunt and aunt's son became her family at an early age.  Rounding out the ensemble is the hunky and handsome suitor, Laurant (Matt Ryan).

What we have here is a twisted and overbearing mother who raised a weak, obnoxious, nelly-boy son and married her off to his first cousin who was raised in the same household because her father died at an early age.   Locked in a loveless (and sexless) marriage, the heat turns up when the obnoxious nelly-boy's best friend finds himself intensely drawn to Therese - - that's when the sparks (and sex) fly.  Laurent, Therese,  and Camille all go out on a boat (yes there is a real lake on the stage). Laurent knocks the weak Camille off the boat and he drowns.  After a few months, the two can finally be together - but will Camille haunt them from the grave?  Is the guilt of killing Madame Raquin's only son too much to bare?  When Madame Raquin accidentally finds out (a note for the director here - i thought this part of the show was not as clear as it could have been as we do not actually see her overhear something) will she expose the two for the murderers they are?

On a different note, I suspect this play is based on a bit more detailed source material (novel 1867, play1873) .  However when translating to this stage it seems the the character of Suzanne (Mary Wiseman) must have been more developed in the source material because her character on stage was incomplete.  Did we need to know she had a suitor (happy) and then her father chased the man away (grumpy)?  I saw no purpose to this story line. Perhaps the book elaborates.

Sets by Beowulf Boritt were magnificent - some flying in, a literal lake on stage, one hovering in mid air.  The actors were not mic'd as far as I could tell and it seemed very appropriate.  Sound (Josh Schmidt) , however was ingeniously integrated with tones and ambient sounds during and between scenes.  To find out how all this resolves, head over to Studio 54 and catch these fine actors practicing their craft.  Just don't expect time to pass quickly.