Don’t Look Now, adapted by Nell Leyshon from Daphne Du Maurier.
Monday 29 January
Socialise from 7:00 pm – start reading at 7:30 pm.
Everyone welcome - The Peninsula Theatre Cnr Ocean Beach and McMasters Rd, Woy Woy
British theatre has a long fascination with hoary old ghost stories. Daphne du Maurier's Don't Look Now is a paranormal potboiler par excellence; a supernatural tale of death in Venice. The story was famously filmed in 1973 by Nicolas Roeg with a sex scene so steamy that rumour persists that Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie weren't acting.
For this new stage version, director Lucy Bailey and adaptor Nell Leyshon retain the bedroom sequence, though the effect is to prove that pretend lovemaking is no more realistic than pretend phantoms - they both entail a lot of unconvincing business beneath a sheet.
Bailey and Leyshon clearly wish to make a case for the work as a profound meditation on infant mortality, the influence of evil and the possibility of a psychic dimension. Yet it hardly matches The Turn of the Screw for psychological perspicuity, and the sombre, rather ponderous staging merely emphasises the inconsistencies of Du Maurier's tale.
John and Laura are in Venice hoping to patch up their relationship after the death of their daughter. But Laura has a funny turn in a restaurant, and her husband comes over all peculiar in the cathedral. The portentous atmosphere is heightened by the fact that they keep bumping into a pair of basilisk-faced sisters who claim to have the power of second sight.
Designer Mike Britton's Venice is a spare, grey box in which everything seems to be afloat. Restaurant tables and hotel beds glide past one another like gondolas - the work of poltergeists, perhaps.
As the traumatised tourists, Simon Paisley Day and Susie Trayling show visible strain keeping their upper lips completely straight. And the inevitably grisly climax is pure schlock-horror. If you don't want to know the ending, look away now.
[Review from theguardian.com]