Thursday, May 10, 2007

What no Bonnie Tyler ? (Total Eclipse - Menier Chocolate Factory)

Christopher Hampton hasn't had a very good time of it recently (leaving aside his adaptation of the Seagull at the Royal Court. The high profile revival of Treats (staring Billie Piper) in West End was greeted with lukewarm reviews and has allegedly struggled to shift tickets. The revival of Total Eclipse the Girl and I went to see at the Menier last night had equally bad critical notices, and given that there were only about 20 people in the audience one suspects has lost a considerable amount of money.
Which is a shame. The performance we saw last night wasn't as bad as the critics would have had us believe, containing some strong performance built around a text that while flabby in places has its moments. Total Eclipse charts the intense sometimes violent love-affair of the French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, as they bounce around Europe in a haze of absinthe trying to escape their families and their past.
Daniel Evan's is, as ever, excellent as Verlaine, the married civil servant who is ruled by lust and drink. Bringing to the early scenes just the right hint of the maddness that will unfold. Jamie Doyle bursts onto the stage as the cocksure 16 year-old Rimbaud who seduces Verlaine as just another way to rebel against the bourgoise society he finds himself in. Doyle is beliveable as the rebelious adolecent but fails to really portray the journey the increasingly cynical and depressed and Rimbaud goes on during the 5 years or so the heart of the play covers.
The traverse stageing is a nice touch instantly putting one in mind of a fencing piste, aposite given that most of the action surrounds the verbal jousts between Verlaine and Rimbaud.
All in all not that bad. On a side note their meal deals are certainly worth investigating, the food we had last night was delicious.


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