Thérèse Raquin at the Finborough Theatre
Thérèse Raquin, Émile Zola’s classic tale of lust, crime and guilt set in 19th-century Paris, may not seem an obvious choice for musical theatre. Yet the world premiere of this exciting production at the Finborough Theatre turns out to be a true gem.
Adapted and directed by Nona Shepphard and accompanied by composer Craig Adams’ haunting score, the musical tells the story of a young woman, Thérèse, trapped in a loveless marriage to her cousin Camille. Bored and stifled by the routine of their life, Thérèse enters into a passionate affair with Camille’s friend Laurent.
Among the strong company of twelve actors – featuring Christopher Logan, James Simpson, Lila Clements, Gary Tushaw, Matt Wilman, Claire Greenway, Ellie Kirk and Verity Quade – Tara Hugo stands out. Her Madame Raquin makes a convincing and deeply moving transition from energetic and doting mother to broken old woman, consumed by thoughts of revenge. Ben Lewis as Laurent and Julie Atherton as Thérèse deliver equally compelling and vocally impressive performances of their characters’ increasingly violent dance of passion, love and guilt, while Jeremy Legat easily holds his own as sickly, querulous and self-absorbed Camille.
Adams’ composition is impressively variable. Recurring dirges like Sang et Nerves and You Are Not Quiet, Thérèse paint a powerful picture of Thérèse’s stifling world, while lighter numbers like Snuggy Little House sarcastically comment on the characters’ lives and relationships.
In a bold decision from Shepphard, the title character remains silent for much of the first act, until the arrival of Laurent startles her from her apathy. The production then quickly gathers momentum, hurtling through a series of increasingly disturbing scenes to its tragic conclusion. The design enhances the claustrophobia of a world in which Thérèse feels “buried alive”.
Thérèse Raquin is sometimes funny, sometimes distressing – two and a half hours are thoroughly enjoyable, not least thanks to Shepphard’s brilliant and witty lyrics. A bold and refreshingly unusual musical experience that achieves a forceful emotional impact, this novel interpretation of Zola’s iconic work will keep you riveted and brilliantly entertained throughout.
Photos: Darren Bell
Thérèse Raquin is on at Finborough Theatre until 19th April 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.