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The Blue Room Review 2000

This production has transferred from the Minerva Theatre, at the Chichester Festival Season and stars Camilla Power and Michael Higgs who play the many characters in this drama, which concerns the sexual encounters of people from all walks of life.

It was never Schnitzler's intention that his loose series of sexual scenes written in 1900 should ever be publicly performed. The eventual premiere in Vienna in 1921 was closed down and the actors were charged with obscenity. We have come a long way since then and almost anything can take place on the world stage nowadays!!

Loveday Ingram's production is a rather dull affair and I am pleased it only lasts 90 minutes, without an interval, because the script is clearly not strong enough to sustain it for longer. I feel the drama would have faired better if it was cut down to an hour. Whilst it was interesting at the beginning to see how different people react to certain sexual situations, particularly when it is infidelity, it labours the point as the play simply covers the same ground, and the old familiar themes become repetitive. In each scene, the time it took to complete the sexual act was lit up on the curtain, this may have been funny at first but became fatuous after a while.

Michael Higgs and Camilla Power perform solidly in their varied roles, but after an hour, like the script, they were beginning to aggravate me as I had grown tired of the same old scenes that were being repeated without any intelligent dialogue or 'real' insight. Maybe if some of the characters were explored more there would have been more depth to the play. In fact, you come away looking for the message it was trying to relate. Sadly I found no message. This is probably because there wasn't one. The question I was asking myself was what was the point of the play? If it was simply an 'observation drama' then it needed a stronger and jocular script to keep you interested.

I may not have thought much of this production, but the reviews from the popular press have been good….. PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT described it as a , "witty, achingly stylish production". JOHN PETER for THE SUNDAY TIMES says, The tone is cooler, more brisk, than the original Donmar production(1998); it has a sharper satirical edge and less dark gravity." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "The Blue Room still stirs powerfully." He goes on to say, "The show seems just as stylish, alluring and witty as it did the first time round. " BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "David Hare's The Blue Room is revived with skill and erotic panache." PETER HEPPLE for THE STAGE says, "Intended as a comedy, it lives up to its aims in a chuckling rather than belly-laughing way." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD thought that Camilla Power lacks Kidman's erotic appeal. However, he describes the play as a "slick, flashy 90 minute production".

"The Blue Room" is only an average play that will leave many theatregoers disappointed, particularly after all the publicity the Donmar Warehouse production received. Patrons going to see this show are probably those that were unable to get tickets for the Donmar production. I don't think you will have any problems getting tickets for this production because without Kidman, David Hare's adaptation is fatally exposed!!

(Darren Dalglish)

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