Re-review: Thérèse Raquin, Park Theatre

“They are drawn by the inescapable promptings of their flesh!”

A well-deserved transfer for this hit Finborough musical although coming a few months after that original run, the production has had to be recast a bit along with being reconceived for the larger space of the Park Theatre. On a personal note, whilst I loved being able to listen to the pleasingly textured score once again, it was also interesting to come back to the show with a much greater knowledge of the story, having recently seen both a play and a film of Thérèse Raquin, thus enabling me to compare and contrast adaptations.

This version hedges its bets from the beginning by describing itself as a “radical adaptation” by Nona Shepphard but what is interesting is that Shepphard is the only one who tries to replicate something of Thérèse’s interior life, which is so richly portrayed in the novel, by using a chorus of three river women. It works both dramatically and musically, creating additional layers to the vocals and these hints of Greek tragedy with its chorus passing commentary is used effectively elsewhere, most notably in reporting the news of Camille’s tragic ‘accident’.

The musical complexity of Craig Adams’ score also works well here, eschewing anything that might be considered a breakout pop hit for the rhythmic repetition of domino numbers (which recalls London Road as much as anything) and James Simpson’s band of keys and strings sound as lush as ever, filling the theatre with glorious sound as the walls close in on Julie Atherton’s Thérèse and Greg Barnett’s Laurent following their surrender to base desires and some serious cat abuse.

Atherton remains excellent as ever as the near-inscrutable anti-heroine – almost silent in the first half – and Barnett swaggers sexily as her husband’s friend, their chemistry based on the excitement of forbidden fruit and consequently suffering once all that is left on the table is said fruit. Tara Hugo’s Madame Raquin really comes into her own once vengeful vindication comes her way and Claire Greenway, Ellie Kirk and Lucy O’Byrne blend beautifully as the river women who let nothing pass their all-seeing eyes. Recommended viewing and hopefully setting a great precedent for transfers from intimate to mid-level houses.

Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes (with interval)
Playtext cost: £5
Booking until 24th August

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