Sunday, May 13, 2007

Theatre Review: Kiss of the Spider Woman

Second attempt.

When will I ever learn to NOT get carried away and type posts in Blogger? When will I ever remember that you MUST type them into NOTEPAD with HTML coding and then transfer them later to Blogger? Only, it seems, when I have nearly had a a Stressed Eric rampaging knot of a stress muscle moment for the umpteenth time it seems.


As you know I first visited the Donmar Warehouse in October last year to see The Cryptogram. Unsurprisingly, having seen the wonderful Douglas Henshall there, I am somewhat predisposed to this intimate venue.

Yesterday, I made a return visit to see Kiss of the Spider Woman, a revival of the Puig play/novel, perhaps best known in its rather different film version starring William Hurt and Raul Julia.

The Donmar production stars Will Keen (whom I first saw alongside Henshall in the Stoppard trilogy, The Coast of Utopia) and relative newcomer Rupert Evans (who looks like he could be the long-lost link between Brad Pitt and Ethan Hawke).

Keen is magnificent in the role of Molina. Of course, he is arch, feminine, manipulative - the role is meant to be so for this 'woman'. But he is also steely, and above all there is a sense of a survival mechanism driving him - one which Molina imagines, hopes, falsely believes, will save both Valentin and himself, even though we know (and you suspect Molina does too) that no one will survive the repressive regime's torture, exploitation, poisoning and brutal murdering. Rather than the hyper-Marxist macho strength invested in Valentin by Raul Julia, here Valentin is a younger, perhaps more deluded idealist. He passionately believes in his studies, the cause, the revolution, but his emotions expose that at heart he is more conflicted than that. Does he, can he really believe that Molina would be safe once beyond the prison walls?

Cut short to avoid the brutal consequences of Molina's exit from prison, this production leaves its audience with a more empty sense of inevitability of their choices. It's no less emotionally hard to cope with, and perhaps in robbing us of the finality of what happens once Molina leaves, it is more tragic rather than less so. Their final kiss and embrace become even more futile: perhaps we never really needed to see what happened next at all.


JoeinVegas said...

I use Word first (for the spell checker) mixed in with Notepad if required.

AnnaWaits said...

Sounds like a fabulous, if exhausting play!