Posts Tagged ‘Laura Cordery’

This isn’t the first musical adaptation of Emil Zola’s late 19th century book / play. There have been two operas and one musical (by Harry Connick Junior!) before it. Though billed as a musical, this one’s a touch operatic, occupying the space between. It’s highly original and very inventive and Craig Adams’ music is very challenging, but maybe too ambitious.

Therese, in the care of her aunt since childhood, is in a loveless marriage to her first cousin Camille and running a business with her aunt. She begins a passionate affair with Camille’s best friend Laurent. When it becomes difficult to continue their afternoon meetings, their solution is to drown Camille in the Seine. After an appropriate period of mourning, at the suggestion of her aunt, Therese marries Laurent. The trouble is, Camille haunts them both and the relationship deteriorates until another tragic solution is found.

I loved Laura Cordery’s dolls house set, which transforms into haberdashers shop, bedroom and drawing room. Nona Sheppard’s staging is clever and highly effective, particularly the weekly domino evenings, Therese & Laurent’s moments of passion and fighting and the hauntings. Julie Atherton is excellent as the melancholic Therese, though she’s virtually mute for the first 45 minutes, Ben Lewis is great as Laurant, commanding in both voice and presence and Jeremy Legat convinces as both Camille and his ghost! I liked Tara Hugo’s characterisation of the aunt, but she struggled with the vocal demands of this complex score (though I think some of the discordant vocal hysterics were intentional), particularly in a long and pivotal second half scene where she appeared to lose her way. It’s a very good supporting ensemble; I particularly liked the chorus of women telling us what Therese was feeling.

If it were less ambitious musically, a little more restrained in performance and with one role recast, this would be a terrific show. Still worth a visit in this first incarnation, though.

Read Full Post »