The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary!

Produced by Peepolykus
Adapted from Gustave Flaubert's novel by John Nicholson & Javier Marzan
Directed by Gemma Bodinetz
Liverpool Everyman
6th - 27th February 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Photograph by Jonathan Keenan

This is a very witty and funny adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's 1856 French classic novel. A lot of thought and ingenuity has gone into this production by director Gemma Bodinetz.

The first act spans 85 minutes but such is the bizarre amalgam of events that take place, time sped quickly by. The scenes include impressive sound effects - I particularly liked the sequence of farmyard animals loudly making themselves heard - actors pretending to ride horses and another walking on the spot as if on a stroll in the countryside.

Not to mention the lowering on stage, during a ballroom scene where men are flirting with Madame, or should it be the other way round?, of a massive chandelier, which resembled a hooped skirt. This was just one aspect of a visually appealing stage design.

The highly talented four actors, who all put in a high-energy shift throughout the evening, play many different characters, with Jonathan Harvey in particular, appearing in many different guises. Javier Marzan and John Nicholson, who penned this adaptation, were almost equally as busy interacting characters.

They were all exemplary but most notable for me was Emma Fielding as Madame Bovary, she of the complicated psyche and the sexually repressed and bored wife of Charles, a dopey and insipid husband, who is seemingly entrapped within this loveless relationship.

She is on stage virtually throughout the 140 minutes. A truly spellbinding performance.

Further comic touches took place when at various times they stopped acting and spoke to the audience about certain parts of the production. but not in a serious way Quite strange but I liked it.

The second act failed to reach the heights of panache as seen before the interval, having less pace and sparkle but was nevertheless still engrossing to watch.

Originally three hours long, the running time has been reduced during the previews.

It is better sometimes to leave in rather than take out in this type of audacious production. I bet what has been cut bears comparison to what remains. The term free rein springs to mind.

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