Jezebel: Mark Cantan
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE
7.00pm Tues-Sun; mats: Sat 3pm; Sun 4.30pm
Runs: 90 mins no interval. to 31 08.
TICKETS : 020 7478 0100
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen August 14, 2014:
Sharp, modern and funny to boot.
Dublin’s Rough Magic theatre company seldom fail to surprise. And Jezebel by newcomer Mark Cantan is no exception.
In the past when Rough Magic have visited London, they’v either brought intrinsically Irish productions (plays by Billy Roche or Stewart Parker) or classics dynamically re-worked. Under visionary artistic director Lynne Parker, their aim though has always ranged beyond the merely nationalistic or parochial.
Jezebel however is something else again. Styled `a comedy of manners’, it’s sharp, funny and modern and could as easily have originated in any city in the British Isles, in north America, Europe or beyond. Its theme is timeless and Cantan – a product of Rough Magic’s `seed-bed’ programme – has put his finger very precisely on modern relationships and its sometimes surprising permutations.
Peter Daly and Margaret McAuliffe play Alan and Robin, symbolic of many similar kinds of young couples. Cantan charts their relationship from initial interest to longterm relationship with acute, very funny observation, highlighting the way words are constantly prey to double meanings according to their emotional context.
A third character, Jezebel, lurks on the periphery. Played with zany openness by Valerie O’Connor, Jezebel and Alan and Robin’s lives gradually converge as Cantan introduces the unusual element of troilism or threesomes.
Not a subject, you’d have thought, that would automatically lend itself to approbation in Irish society – at least not in old catholic Ireland – Cantan’s treatment of it and Daly, McAuliffe, O’Connor and the production’s original director, Jose Miguel Jiménez’s wonderful control make it a bon bouffe that owes much of its perfection to the beauty of its playing.
Whilst reclaiming the idea of Jezebel from her femme fatale mythology, such is the mileage inherent in the notion of a threesome together with a steady sense of dishonesty that runs alongside this couple’s eagerness to keep their relationship alive by introducing another, Cantan’s comedy eventually turns into sophisticated sexual farce culminating in an extraordinary scene where both women are giving birth simultaneously, the father, Alan going between each.
A sustained piece of high comic playing, it would do credit to Feydeau or let it also be said, Ray Cooney on a good day! As entertaining as it is original.
Alan: Peter Daly
Robin: Margaret McAuliffe
Jezebel: Valerie O’Connor
Director: Lynne Parker
Director – Original Production: José Miguel Jiménez
Set & Lighting Designer: Ciarán O’Melia
Costume Designer: Deirdre Dywer
Dramaturg: Maureen White
Producers: Diego Fasciati, Clare Robertson
Jezebel received its world premiere at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, on Dec 8, 2012.
First perf at Soho Theatre, London, Aust 12, 2014.
For more info on Rough Magic, see www.roughmagic.ie
For Soho Theatre: www.sohotheatre.com