Production: The Scarlet Pimpernell
Venue: Theatre Royal
Rating: * *
Set during the Reign of Terror in Eighteenth Century Europe, The Scarlet Pimpernel tells the story of a quest to save France from Madame Guillotine. The plot is meant to create an atmosphere of suspense and tension. This production, however, falls short of the mark.
Percy, the male lead, was never able to shrug off his foppish disguise, and even in emotionally charged scenes, he lacked the fiery passion of his convictions. Indeed, he seemed better suited to the role of pantomime dame than as masked vigilante.
Despite his weak performance, the show was visually dynamic; the set was simple yet dramatic with the stage dominated by the looming threat of Madame Guillotine, whilst the lighting added an atmosphere undelivered by the actors.
Marguerite, the heroine, was successfully portrayed as an innocent girl caught up in a world in which she did not belong; however, for a former spy and stormer of the Bastille, her depiction lacked the mystery of a woman with a past. Chauplin, the former lover of Marguerite, was played by a man old enough to be her father though this could have been overlooked had the acting been more believable.
Despite the unconvincing performances of the leads, the chorus brought flavour to an otherwise bland production, with the males standing a league above the rest.