Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
L’amante anglaise, June 26, 2016 ****1/2
THEATRE Written by Marguerite Duras At fortyfivedownstairs until July 3, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ****1/2
Review also published in print in Herald Sun Arts on Tues June 28, 2016, KH
Marguerite Duras’ compelling duologue, L’amante anglaise, is both haunting
and haunted as it slowly and quietly unravels the grim story of the gruesome
and mystifying murder of a deaf-mute by her peculiar, but formerly non-violent
Laurence Strangio’s skilful direction is deceptively
simple and his production is simultaneously intimate and alienating as the two accomplished
and inspiring actors (Robert Meldrum, Jillian Murray) sit opposite each other for
The bleak tale
unfolds in two interviews: the first with Pierre Lannes (Meldrum) and the
second with his wife, Claire Lannes (Murray), the confessed murderess of her
the objective interrogators, both Murray and Meldrum function almost as
disembodied voices that pose obvious or unexpected questions, but, in contrast,
their portrayals of Claire and Pierre are complex, nuanced and spiced with
humour, impeccable timing and consummate skill.
seems cold, self-absorbed, smug, inflexible and insensitive as he responds to Murray’s
gently probing questions about his wife, his marriage and the victim’s role as
cook in his household.
abrasiveness is peppered with sadness and perplexity, and he gains our sympathy
when he reveals his past, deep love for his wife and the emotional injury she
caused him with her incomprehensible indifference to him over 22 years.
Meldrum is contained
and compelling as Pierre and his rich, dark, velvety voice is almost hypnotic
in both of his roles.
Murray is remarkable
and disconcerting as the eccentric, mercurial Claire, depicting her as a woman
teetering on the brink of psychosis but hauling herself back to some version of
reality in which she is a bewildered, light-voiced and child-like creature.
her interrogator, gently and persistently penetrates her psyche until Claire
reveals that, during her marriage, she lived in a world of gardens, interesting
and ‘intelligent thoughts’, memories of her first, passionate love and diligent
avoidance of her husband and the ‘fat calf’ who was her deaf-mute cousin.
shift with Claire’s changing moods and, through the questioning, we come closer
to an understanding of her incomprehensible motivation to kill her cousin, although
Claire still refuses to reveal her last secret, the final crucial piece of
nature of the woman and her crime leaves the audience confounded and desperate
to understand why this unfathomable woman would commit such a horrific crime.
L’amante anglaise is an engrossing theatrical
experience with assured acting and direction. Duras should be delighted.