(Andrew Todd’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/10.)

Ivo van Hove’s production of The Damned, at the Avignon festival, is a masterstroke. Adapted from the screenplay of Luchino Visconti’s 1969 film, it is a dangerous, vast and virtuoso production that confronts its time and context with chilling force, showing, in the director’s own words, “a celebration of evil”.

Van Hove was granted the festival’s opening slot in the challenging Cour d’Honneur following Avignon successes with The Fountainhead (2014) and Shakespeare’s Roman Tragedies (2008). The venue has sunk mighty talents with its 40-metre-wide stage, 2,000-seat bleacher and a 14th-century stage wall that seems more geological than architectural. Added to this, Van Hove was entrusted with the venerable Comédie-Française company la Troupe, who have been absent from Avignon for 23 years.


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