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The Marriage Of Figaro by Beaumarchais, in a new version by Michael West

Directed by Brian Brady

Beaumarchais’ play The Marriage Of Figaro was first performed in Paris in 1783, a year before Mozart used it as the libretto for his famous opera. Michael West has updated his version to 1930s Paris, so just as the original prefigured the French Revolution, this one prefigures the Second World War. Another reference point for the current production is Jean Renoir’s 1939 film, La Regle De Jeu (The Rules Of The Game), with which it seems to share Renoir’s stated aim, to make ‘a precise description of the bourgeois of our age.’
So much for the background, but does it work dramatically?









Not for this viewer, it didn’t. It is another fun night out at The Abbey, which could safely be advertised as ‘The Abbey’s Christmas Pantomime’. At one point the stage erupts in a choreographed Wedding Dance to the accompaniment of Coleman Hawkins and his All-Star Jam Band’s ‘Crazy Rhythm’, which is all fine and well if one wants the kind of theatre one could bring one’s grandparents to with impunity, but not if one is looking for a challenging or moving experience. Nor is it a question of salty subversive unpalatable truths being served up in a sugary saccharine coating. It’s just tedious drivel about the financial basis of conventional marriage, and conventional marriage as a convenient conduit for the taming of unbridled desire, all of which we’ve heard before.
The one redeeming feature of the evening is Karen Ardiff’s performance as Figaro’s beloved Suzanne. Judging by what she can do here, and what she did in Good Evening, Mr Collins, she is the most vivacious young actress on the Dublin stage at the moment. Otherwise, one can only hope that The Abbey don’t play their next production, Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece The Importance Of Being Earnest, entirely for laughs as a period piece costume drama.

First published in 46A









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