Thérèse Raquin at The Courtyard
Armed with nothing but a few pallets and a table, the cast of fresh-faced and not-so-fresh-faced actors take to the stage, and we are plunged into the action. It’s 19th century Paris, in a textile shop. Thérèse’s simple yet unsatisfying life, married to her cousin under the watchful eye of her aunt, is all about to change with the entrance of Laurent; the love affair they embark on will have profound effects for all of them. The plot is gripping and absorbing, twisting and turning, delving deep into the heart of human desire.
This production, however, still needs more work. Lines are regularly forgotten, fumbled and mis-timed, as are a few of the lighting and sound cues. This prevents the audience from fully engaging with the performance, reminded – as we are every few minutes – that this is just a façade. It’s a pity, because the production has a good heart and is aiming for something great, but a little tightening up here and there would prove beneficial for future performances.
These blips may distract from the action of the play, but there is still plenty to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The characters portrayed here have a depth of emotion perhaps unexpected from such a fledgling theatre company, and despite their petty foibles, the play is so balanced that we feel we could root for any one of them – from the comic relief of Grivet to the kindly protection of Michaud. It’s Therese and Laurent, though, that we find ourselves most drawn to. Despite their foul deeds, they are portrayed through such an empathetic lens that we begin to understand their crimes, and the tragedies that befall them become more and more heartbreaking.
It is testament to the heart of this production that, despite the mistakes, the end result is still a resoundingly entertaining and moving performance.
Thérèse Raquin is on at The Courtyard Theatre until 7th February 2015, for futher information or to book visit here.