Sodome, My Love review

March 21, 2010

When called upon to play characters who live in-or jolt into- a state of Bachaic like excess Irish actors have the tendency to do one of two things. They either go so over the top – loosing touch with reality and  honesty – or they willow about the stage, breathing deeply and gently stroking themselves as they discuss how their actions make or made them feel, so immersed in their own feeling of lust they forget to include us.

It is the later option Olwen Fouere goes for in her own adaptation of Laurent Gaudé’s Sodome, My Love which received its world premiere at the Project Arts Centre last week. In an otherwise impressive production Fouere never seems to shake off the stilted and airy tones she uses when emerging from the pillar of salt, in which she has been encased for thousands of years by our vengeful god, the last daughter of Sodome. Though never losing our interest the whole piece begins to feel a little same-y after a while, untill it takes a rather ludicrous, if entertaining, twist at the end

Directed by Lynne Parker and presented by  Rough Magic in association with Foueres new artistic entity TheEmergencyRoom ( a terrific invention to give projects that need immediate attention the support they deserve) it is a fascinating piece that is breathtakingly staged and combines sound, set and visuals to bolster Gaude’s script, which itself is so full of imagery and florid language it could easily have stood alone.

Here it is accompanied by a stunning tomb like set(designed by John Comiskey), composed of two-way mirrors, lighting diffusion and clear polycarbonate(plastic) caked in a black cellular spray which allows Fouere to interact with reflective surface, pre recorded imagery and lighting in a way I haven’t seen on stage before.

It can be a little forced. Images of Autobahns and speeding trains signify the last daughters journey from Sodom whilst images of sexually precarious women flash by drawing a comparison between the decadence of Sodom and our own overly sexualized society. Though it sometimes pulls focus from whats being said it is exciting to experience and Fouere works fluidly with it, the words complimenting the visuals but never depending on them.

Taking the form of a gargantuan monologue broken into six separate parts, the last daughter is washed clean by a heavy rain before reflecting on the hedonistic city of her birth, from the feast day ending in the destruction of the neighboring Gomorrah to preparations for their own battle, their attempt to secure salvation, eventual destruction and the cruel and unusual punishment heaped upon the last daughter of Sodom.

Fouere paints the picture well with her honeyed tones and glacial airs, fully realising the city of Sodome in her own mind so that we can really see it too. She never makes us feel like we are there but perhaps that is because the people of Sodome are so different from you and I, the ancestors of those who destroyed it. There is a division between her and us that only sinks in as the evening wears on.

While I respect that what Fouere does, through movement and voice,  is to portray, realistically, a woman who has been freed from a petrified prison, it drags as the piece progresses and at times I wished, for entertainment purposes, that Fouere would come alive and match the size of Gaude’s script. It’s a personal preference and the artistic team behind this production have committed to their own vision, an abstract oddity that engaged but rarely moved me.


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