DON’T LOOK NOW
adapted by Nell Leyshon from the story by Daphne du Maurier.
Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 14 November 2015.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat 29 Oct, 7 Nov.
Audio-described 7 Nov 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 11 Nov.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 October.
Hard-working effort but this story reached its definitive form on film.
Best-known from Nicholas Roeg’s 1973 film, Don’t Look Now is a tempting choice for stage adaptation with its focus on character and the way grief prises apart a marriage. One of Laura and John’s children has drowned and they are recovering in Venice. The city is effectively a character, setting the disturbed mood of the pair, and Norman Coates’ design creates both Venetian elegance and watery danger.
But Roeg came to direction from cinematography, and the film operates chiefly through visual images and implications. Attempts in Nell Leyshon’s script to explain in words matters which stage limitations cannot imply, sound leaden. And the script here removes the surface reason for the English pair’s being in Venice – John’s work on church restoration.
Laura has family anxieties to steer her character and Charlotte Powell presents them within the context of a woman whose natural intelligence and energy have been interrupted by the tension of grief. Even she is defeated in a scene where she has to express fury clad in skimpy black underwear (fair enough) with a towel wrapped round her head like the mould for an elaborate Egyptian head-dress. Facing the thin figure of Tom Cornish’s John, she’s like an irate Cleopatra denouncing the asp for its shortcomings.
Left jobless, Cornish’s John has little purpose in life. Certainly, he doesn’t in the play and does little but sit, or go around, being worried with occasional spats of confused anger. It’s hard to react much when he meets his fate; quite hard to notice indeed.
That’s also because director Simon Jessop, who’s found transitions between the short scenes quite difficult – theatre’s long past the stage when mysterious figures prowling around are, of themselves, other but comic – ironically muffles the revelation of the identity of the child-sized figure in red.
All the atmospheric plainchant and mysterious music can’t replace acute acting. And the scream ending act one seems a blatant rip-off from The Woman in Black.
There is, however, well-defined playing in other roles, particularly Callum Hughes as a sympathetic hotel worker and Tina Gray as the elderly blind woman with psychic insight.
Red-cloaked Figure: Karen Anderson.
Sister: Gillian Cally.
John: Tom Cornish.
Blind Sister: Tina Gray.
Hotel Clerk: Callum Hughes.
Police Chief: Stuart Organ.
Restaurant Proprietor: Sam Pay.
Laura: Charlotte Powell.
Director: Simon Jessop.
Designer: Norman Coates.
Lighting: Mark Dymock.
Sound: Andy Smart.
Musical Arranger/Musical Director: Steven Marwick.
Visual effects: Dan Crows.
Vocal coach: Mary Viscoml.