It was the final performance for my London Stage class and we were going out with an all-women cast of Madame du Sade. It was to be our treat for seeing plays that mainly have male leads or male dominance. C’mon with Judi Dench and Rosamund Pike (Jane Bennett from Pride & Prejudice) as the two main leads you would expect fireworks. At times there were fireworks, most of the time not so much.
First of all the set was designed to look like a French nobility home during the French Revolution, but it was completely gray from the floors to the ceiling. I imagine this is what Dorthy’s Kansas might have been like except for less grand.
Then the dialogue…so many allegories, comparisions out the wazoo describing the Marquis du Sade’s behavior and describing him. Jeez cut it down a bit why don’t you. I get it, he’s a pervert, a royally connected pervert into BDSM. No need to carry on for five minutes in a monologue. Don’t get me wrong there were some funny bits in there that reminded me of women empowerment. But when his wife just says I will not see him any more after being told the state of ugliness he had become while in prison, just ruined all women empowerment and made it seem like she was extremely shallow. Ugh. I’m sure Dench’s and Pike’s performances could have been outstanding if it wasn’t for the writing of the play because they have prooven time and time again what brillant actresses they are. This was not one of those times unfortunately.
There was no intermission, and I can understand why. There didn’t seem to be a really good point to stop the play. It lacked a hook that could draw an audience back after an intermission.
Then there were some effects, projections on the wall. With the wall being that gray scale it was difficult to see many of the projects. Then when they are describing the red moon, voila a red moon appears. Kind of gives you an idea that the audience it ignorant as to what a red moon may look like.
Overall I wouldn’t spend 25 quid on seeing this play again, unless one is interested in seeing Dench, Pike, and the others on stage. Go for it. If this is turning you away from seeing this production, don’t let it. People should decide from themselves whether or not they will like a play or not. For all I know it was the director of the play that has caused it to get bad reviews from all the London newspapers.