(Tim Walker’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 9/29.)
This review of Sir Trevor Nunn’s Scenes From a Marriage is running one week late. It was due to open the Monday before last, only to be postponed by seven days after a member of its cast was indisposed. Perhaps one should be grateful for small mercies. Some years ago, I recall driving to Stratford to see a King Lear that Sir Trevor had directed, only to have to drive all the way back again after another cast member was indisposed. That first night ended up being on hold for two months.
I say all this because it’s only fair I acquaint you with the fact I went to see this show in a bit of a grump. Maddeningly, however, I still found it a rather satisfying piece of theatre. Perhaps I was in precisely the right state of mind. Certainly, I wouldn’t recommend it to any blissfully happy courting couples or, for that matter, any married pair celebrating an anniversary.
Indeed, when Ingmar Bergman’s nihilistic study of the institution of marriage – “two people inexplicably drawn to mutual misery”, as one of his characters puts it – was first screened on television in Sweden, it was blamed for raising the divorce rate.
Joanna Murray-Smith’s adaptation kicks off with a dinner party from hell: Johan (Mark Bazeley) and Marianne (Olivia Williams) are entertaining two old chums (Shane Attwooll and Aislinn Sands) who announce, after a row, that they are about to divorce. Johan and Marianne’s union seems, by contrast, rock solid, even though, like so many professional couples, its success seems to find expression principally in the value of their home. I found the relationship hard to accept to start with because I couldn’t help thinking of Alastair Campbell shacking up with Cherie Blair – Bazeley played the old brute in the film The Queen and Williams was the Mrs Blair-like character in The Ghost.
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