Theatre: Madame De Sade

Maybe after watching Angels and Demons on Friday, I was in the mood for something with a little less action, fewer explosions and better dialogue; but I actually enjoyed watching the Saturday matinee performance of Madame De Sade. The play, which is nearing the end of its run, has had largely negative reviews in The Times and The Telegraph (and luke warm reviews in the Guardian and Evening Standard).

The review in the Telegraph prompted Dame Judi Dench to describe the Telegraph's critic as an absolute s---. Well to be fair to both, the quality of theatre criticism in London is dire, and this will probably not be the most memorable of Dench's performances on stage (as she mostly has to move between being outraged, cunning and just over it all). However all that being said, there is much to go for the play, particularly the quality of the acting, the fabulous costumes, wigs, lighting and set.

I had been forewarned that the action takes place off stage and the drama unfolds by the conversations and perspectives of the cast on stage, so I came prepared for a long afternoon. I had also gathered that that playwright Yukio Mishima's fascination with differing ideals of morality also annoyed the hell out of people. Perhaps in this day and age there is nothing so shocking about what the Marquis De Sade got up to. But if you bear that all in mind what you have is a simple story that is elevated to an engaging afternoon (or evening) of drama. Perhaps a month after the opening night and those ambivalent reviews the actors have managed to make the most of this unusual work too.

There were plenty of squirms in the audience when some of the acts of the Marquis De Sade were described in rather vivid and graphic detail. Scanning across the audience, I could see many men with their legs crossed and their hands in their crotches... Now that is the hallmark of a good play. If only they had copies of the Marquis De Sade's books on sale in the foyer to enable we patrons to take home some of the drama...

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