Ensemble Theatre Company’s artistic director Jonathan Fox helms Therse Raquin, a French classic by way of England, and it promises to be smoldering. Nicholas Wright’s new stage adaptation of the Emile Zola’s 1867 novel is the latest in a grand, seemingly endless parade of stage versions of Therse Raquin, a novel, but the reviews of Marianne Elliot’s production at the National Theatre in London in 2006 were unqualified raves.
Here’s what to expect: Therse has married the ineffectual Camille (yes, there’s a man named “Camille”) and subsequently contracted a monumental case of erotic ennui. Enter Laurent, the artist. Cue the lingering glances and studied poses of flirtation. Cut to the burning desperation of furtive caresses and ardent gazing. Double entendres deepen and combust, until the pair decide that “accidents do happen.” From there, things unravel quickly, for crimes of passion do not good relationships make.
The final sequences of this adaptation have been praised for telling the story visually through elaborate and emotional choreography. David Benedict, reviewing for Variety, writes that in the finale, “the actors are caught in snapshot poses of pain, self-abasement, rage, distressed sex, interrupted violence, all accompanied by the sawing, passionate low string music.” So it will no doubt be interesting to see how far Fox goes in this movement-oriented direction.
Lauren Lovett will play the femme fatale, Therse, in all her manic and petulant glory. Having played the mood-swinging Lula in Leroi Jones’s The Dutchman most recently will come in handy here, as will Lovett’s Juilliard training in classical theater technique. Her beloved Laurent will be played by Jamison Jones-Secret Service agent Dan from TV’s 24. There’s a lot more to Jones than his small screen exposure though, because he has the equivalent of a black belt in historical swordplay.
Therse Raquin begins tonight, Thursday, January 31, at Ensemble Theatre Company, 914 Santa Barbara Street, and runs through Sunday, February 24. For tickets and information call 965-5400 or visit ensembletheatre.com.