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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Casanova

The Playhouse, Liverpool
October 30 - November 3

Author: Carol Ann Duffy
Director: Paul Hunter
Producer: Told By An Idiot
Cast includes: Hayley Carmichael, Richard Clews, Johannes Flaschberger,
Martin Hyder, Catherine Marmier, Carlonia Valdes, Tonin Zefi
Running time: 2 hrs

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website

Listen to Chris High on BBC Radio Merseyside 31st October 2007


LISTEN to Chris High on BBC Radio Merseyside talking about Casanova
.
Wednesday 31st Oct 2007


It’s difficult to know where to begin with this production of Casanova as produced by Told By An Idiot, so we’ll start with the good bits. The cast of seven and, in particular Hayley Carmichael in the title role of the sex-crazed lothario on the run across Europe from a shadowy detective, are all highly energetic and carry their roles – some of them multiple – well, given what it is they are working with; a timeless story, given the twist of the central character being a woman in eighteenth century Europe.

Newcomer Tonin Zefi, in his first professional role, is also an actor whose name is worth making a note of, as his timing and delivery are exemplary in the role Kitchen Boy.

Sadly where it falls down into meaningless shenanigans, however, is in the fact that Casanova is a woman because there is no point to the gender-swap, as all she does in this what Casanova does in every adaptation ever written; seduces and charms her way around Europe and the pants off Mozart, Voltaire and even The Pope.

The story itself, written on this occasion by the acclaimed poet, Carol Ann Duffy, occasionally sparkles, but this unfortunately is all rather less frequently than the pace of the play demands and is not helped by the fact that a lot of it is in several different languages and in a somewhat languid third-person narrative form, which also slows the action.

The set, a sort of intricate three-tiered climbing frame, is used with some effect, but even this could have been brought more into focus with the use of images being projected onto the huge white backdrop behind, so as to give the audience a sense of place. Theatre, after all, has the magical ability to transport an audience, whereas this never has them leaving the theatre.

There are some scenes of note. Casanova giving birth on the banks of The Thames, in which a navy blue sheet becomes the rolling river, and an elaborate bullfight incorporating a bucket, a broom handle and a bag of balls is superbly – and wittily – choreographed, but by then we are pretty much past caring what happens so that, all in all, this production recounting the life one of the most exciting, racy, lustful men to have ever lived, is reduced to something of a damp squib that never really ignites.
Chris High.

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website
www.everymanplayhouse.com


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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