Dark tale of desire and despair

Pippa Nixon and Alison Steadman

Pippa Nixon in the lead role and Alison Steadman

Therese Raquin

Malvern Theatres

 ****

DARK and atmospheric, the tension in this classic story by French writer Emile Zola builds up to the extent that you will be biting at your fingernails.
Telling the fated life of young, beautiful Therese Raquin, like most good stories from France, it's high on passion and drama, but also misery - so don't expect a happy ending.
This play, a Theatre Royal Bath Production commissioned by Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, has a stellar cast including Alison Steadman as Therese's kindly mother-in-law and an impressive Pippa Nixon in the lead role. She doesn't always say much but her anguished stares across the audience say a thousand words.
Actor Hugh Skinner is suitably insufferable and spoilt as Therese's husband Camille, who she plans to get rid of with her manly lover Laurent, played by Kieran Bew.
Up to the interval, it's a relatively light-hearted affair as our whimsical heroine is a passenger in her own life, married off to her hypochondriac cousin and trapped in a loveless marriage until charmer Laurent appears and gets the blood pumping in her veins.
It's pretty hot stuff when they get together and leaves little to the imagination in a hot under the collar bedroom scene, but it's important to show their passion, especially as it will contrast so strongly with the couple in the future.
After the interval, the performance takes a much darker turn and becomes a thriller come ghost story.
There's a heavy dose of torment and anguish, along with pepperings of suspense that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.
What's more it's beautifully choreographed with each section interspaced to a soundtrack of vivid, heartfelt cello and violin strings as graceful scenery changes take place to keep the action flowing.
It's a wonderfully penned story of passion and desire and the consequences they bring. You won't want to miss it. To 23-08-14

Alison Brinkworth

18-08-14 

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