Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Misanthrope

Had a great evening yesterday at The Misanthrope. Although it's on at the Comedy Theatre and billed at such, it's very much witty - sometimes laugh out loud witty - but not comic. In fact if anything it's rather tragic.

Damian Lewis is really excellent in the title role, confirming my opinion from seeing him on TV - it's nice to see Keira Knightley graciously and successfully play second fiddle, with a very convincing American accent. The verse is very successfully translated to English and to a modern context - it takes a few lines to get used to but is never heavy-handed. The play is very pretty to look at, very entertaining and also gives plenty of food for thought about all kinds of lovely philosophical and linguistic issues around relativism, postmodernism and the fine line between tact and hypocrisy.

The ending, where Jenny (Keira) sees her media world in all its hypocritical, savage lack of support and yet still chooses it over Alceste (Damian) has the ring of absolute truth. And it's particularly great that although one's sympathies are generally with Alceste, he is very far from perfect, showing the ugly side of his arguments in mistrust and possessiveness, as well as a positively irritating lack of pragmatism or compromise. Satisfying on all levels.

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