by ALBERT Camus
adapted for the stage by Neil Bartlett.
The Arcola Theatre, Studio 1, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL to 6 May 2017.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 3pm.
Runs 85 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 11 April.
Challenging and exciting adaptation for today
The plague Camus was writing about in the aftermath of the Second World War was that of Fascism which had swept Europe, plunging people into a time of crisis and despair and arbitrary death. It was about survival, how to live through the unthinkable. Neil Bartlett’s adaptation is stark and powerful. He has set it on a stage bare except for some chairs and a table. Five of the novel’s protagonists are giving witness it seems to some kind of inquiry into what happened. They speak in short bursts, interrupt one another, leave the discussion, return. The cast handle the fragmented conversations with commendable skill, creating out of them a collection of believable characters.
It is about how a plague of rats arrive, pestilence breaks out, quarantine is imposed, some people prosper, others volunteer to fight the disease, others are separated from those they love by the accident of timing. Given the state of the times it is as relevant now as it was in 1947. His warning was that the rats could always return, and those who said Never Again about the Nazis had to bear that in mind. They come in different forms.
The role of Dr Rieux, the main narrator, is actually played by a woman, Sara Powell, but she is playing a man, her sex is an irrelevance, and it simply adds to the all embracing nature of this painfully shared experience.
Mr Cottard: Joe Alessi.
Mr Grand: Burt Caesar.
Raymond Rambert: Billy Postlethwaite,
Dr Rieux: Sara Powell.
Jean Tarrou: Martin Turner.
Director: Neil Bartlett/
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir.
Sound Designer: Dinah Mullen.