Bluebeard “The Stage”
The UK premiere of Max Frisch’s
psychosexual character study depicts a man just acquitted of the murder of his
sixth ex-wife, haunted by memories of the trial and by visions of the victim’s
life as a prostitute after their divorce.
In the trial scenes his five previous wives all
testify on his behalf but an overzealous female prosecutor twists their words
to support her circumstantial case against him. The mimed sexual encounters may
represent his fantasies or his fears.
The play is driven by three dramatic engines -
uncertainty as to the man’s innocence despite his acquittal, the growing
awareness that anyone whose life is subject to such close critical scrutiny
will find reasons to feel guilt and an erotically charged atmosphere that
envelops even the connection between prosecutor and accused.
Victor Sobchak’s production is particularly effective
in the first two but doesn’t quite succeed with the third, despite some
inventive staging. Andy McQuade movingly conveys the sense of a man feeling a
guilt perhaps even greater than the one of which he is accused, while
sustaining our suspicion that the character might be capable of murder.
Lyndie Uphill’s strong performance as the prosecutor
is coloured more by cold anger than hints of sexual energy and even a scene in
which she and Frida Show as the victim briefly switch roles is not enough to
extend the play’s erotic tone as far as author and director might have wished.
Still, the play is evocative and involving, achieving much and at least hinting
at the rest.
Show, Lyndie Uphill, Andy McQuade, Geir Kjelland, Miranda Magee, Jennifer
Webster, Lucy Middleweek, Helen Johns, Dita Kelly
Lion and Unicorn Theatre (August 2007)
adaptation of Max Frisch’s novel tells the story of Dr Felix Schaad
(Geir Kellen) after his trial for the murder of his sixth ex-wife and
prostitute Rozalind (Daniella Joseph).
He is haunted by
the memories of the trial, the thoughts of Rozalind with her lover
(Joshua Antwi) and his own sexual frustration.
The accuser (Tanya Ann Powell) brings in his ex-wives to testify – some
do so more convincingly than others – and he is acquitted due to lack
The performance starts with a dance involving all the ex-wives. They
are dressed in a way (a ballet dancer, a school girl, a corporate
woman, etc) which might symbolise Felix’s repressed fantasies. A man in
a cape, later revealed as The Lover, enters and
flagellates them in turn. When he comes to Rozalind, he strangles her with a tie.
Each hearing is followed by Felix’s reflection on the accusation or by
a dance, where The Lover eventually appears, as though to symbolise
Felix’s sexual frustration or inadequacy, and makes love to Rozalind
before strangling her.
The musical elements were clumsy at times and the set was not overly
inventive, but this eerie tale of love, lust and guilt is bold and
original. Daniella Joseph makes for a sensual Rozalind and Geir Kellen
is convincing as the ambiguous Felix. Expect full female frontal
nudity, and a lot of biceps.