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Archive for June 15th, 2008

Dundee Rep have assembled their ‘A’ team of actors to tackle the 1938 Parisian shocker Les Parents Terribles by Jean Cocteau in a translation made for the National Theatre production by Jeremy Sam.       I knew nothing about this play when I went, but it is a totally absorbing five-hander.

Diabetic and permanently pyjama-clad Yvonne, convincingly played by Anne Louise Ross and her 22 year old son Michael (a bouncy and at times, petulant Kevin Lennon)  have an uncomfortably close relationship – bordering on the Oedipal.     Yvonne’s husband George ( John Buick – in splendid form) was actually engaged to her sister Leo (Irene Macdougall), before breaking it off, and Leo is still understandably bitter after all these years.     The play begins with Yvonne lying on the floor in a diabetic coma, and it is clear that Michael has stayed out all night.    Aunt Leo says that Michael  has been with a woman – and he has, of course, much to Yvonne’s astonishment and disgust.     We learn that George has also been secretly seeing a woman.    The same one:   Madeleine, nicely played by Emily Winter.    The family pay a visit to Madeleine’s apartment, and the sparks really start flying.      Madeleine has a really dirty trick played on her, but in the end it is Leo who holds the cards, and Irene Macdougall gave a well judged performance.

Les Parents terribles    

Kevin Lennon, Emily Winter and Anne Louise Ross in Les Parents Terribles.    Picture – Dundee Rep.

 This was a very stylish production indeed.    Stewart Laing directed with attention to detail, and he also designed the extraordinary ‘dolls house’ type set, with ‘the family’s’ drab and dark untidy bedroom and bathroom in the lower half, and Madelaine’s bright and ordered apartment in the upper half.    The whole was stunningly lit by Mimi Jordan Sherin, an internationally renowned lighting designer.    Set and lighting are potentially award winning.

Les Parents Terribles must be a tricky play to bring off, as the continually shifting balance between the main characters has to be caught ‘just so’.    The advantage that Stewart Laing had was that this team of actors has been working together for so many productions.      The benefit of the permanent ensemble working at Dundee Rep was once again demonstrated, and this was a good night out at the theatre.

Over at View From the Stalls, Statler and Waldorf have discussed the problems of theatre audiences.    We have actually had a pretty good run recently, but at this performance there were three large women along the row and in front of us who ate throughout, and I am talking about crisps+.     They really had brought a picnic.   Not exactly silent.      Also we had two different people wandering out and wandering back in again.    And a lot of coughing.    Must be the Dundee haar.    

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