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Le Grand Mort

Review - Le Grand Mort starring Julian Clary at Trafalgar Studios

Mark Shenton
Mark Shenton

This cryptic teaser of a psychological sex thriller is called Le Grand Mort, a sly (if not particularly subtle) reference to 'La petite mort' - an expression that refers to the state of unconsciousness that follows orgasm. This play, however, may leave you feeling a little bit dead with disinterest, until one of the two actors - not, fortunately, Julian Clary - strips completely naked and appears to have been the model for the nude sculpture hanging on the wall of Clary's character's kitchen, in every detail. (Though it is modelled on da Vinci's Vitruvian man, some details have been exaggerated - and James Nelson-Joyce admirably matches them). 

Producer Danielle Tarento certainly knows how to pique audience interest - a previous production of hers of a stage version of Gods and Monsters at Southwark Playhouse also featured a buff and beefy male nude

Meanwhile, last Christmas Julian Clary was at the London Palladium (and will be back there again this year) in pantomime, flying high over the heads of the audience on a scooter (and some of his lines hopefully flying over the heads of the kids, too). So it's pretty admirable that he's swapped a 2,286 seat auditorium for one seating barely 100, and to bring his performance down a notch or two from his usual heightened state; though there are times when playwright Stephen Clark's script seems to have  dialogue tailor-made for his distinctively waspish delivery. 

He plays a sometime architect, now reduced to designing soft furnishings, who invites a younger suitor round to his apartment for dinner - and a little fantasy play-acting. Or is it? The two seem to fetishise death games - and share a past of childhood abuse. So the kitchen knives come out to play. 

But despite a set you could move into (and certainly can cook in, as Clary's character demonstrates as he rustles up a quick puttanesca pasta dish), the play is an over-extended sketch with little depth or distinction. 

Le Grand Mort runs at Trafalgar Studios until 28th October. 

Le Grand Mort Tickets are available now. 

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