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.

Gerald Berkowitz

Production information


Max Frisch


Frida Show, Lyndie Uphill, Andy McQuade, Geir Kjelland, Miranda Magee, Jennifer Webster, Lucy Middleweek, Helen Johns, Dita Kelly


Victor Sobchak

Bluebeard uncovered


Lion and Unicorn Theatre (August 2007)

THIS 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 of proof.
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.