Marat/Sade review

Posted on: 05/12/2008


Peter Symonds College, November 28

Reviewed by Ben Moncrieffe

Rating: ****

Imagine yourself as a deranged person living in a 19th Century asylum. Now imagine, being in a complex play concerning the different view points to the French Revolution. Hard isn’t it? Well the A2 Drama and Theatre studies students did just that, and I must say, it blew me away. It was creepy, interesting, enlightening and gripping.

‘Marat/ Sade’ is a play written by Peter Weiss in 1963. It concerns two main characters, Jean Paul Marat, a revolutionary and politician of the French revolution, who spent the later years of his life confined to a bathtub due to incurable skin disease. Throughout most of the play, he is in favour of perpetuating the revolution so that nobody is oppressed. At one point he describes how despite the fact that the middle classes were liberated and freed from the oppression of the aristocrats, the working class then became the new oppressed class. James Deacon (in the first act) and Richard Spencer (in the second) played Marat and they captured his surging desire to continue the revolution; to give his ‘Call to the people’ from his bath while being slowly overcome by his disease .

Joe Dodd and Adam Feltham played the Marquis De Sade, the writer and director of the ‘play within a play’ in the asylum. De Sade essentially uses the play to argue two sides of the Revolution, despite the fact that they are both for it. Both actors created a calculating revolutionary that wanted us to see everything in the play, much to the distaste of Coulmier (the Asylum curator) played by Ben Farrar and Sophie Cavey.

At the end of the play, Marat is assassinated by the mesmerizing Charlotte Corday played by Ainѐ Mcgarvey and Angharad Tye-Reeve. However the director decides to bring Marat ‘back to life’ and he gives one final emotional monologue, which is a fitting end to the play.

Although a complicated plot, I felt that the actors made it much easier for me to understand using their clear voices and excellent gesture and expression, supported by the exciting and colourful performances of the four singers who gave the performance a musical element. At times it was quite grotesque, especially the way Tom Vickers played the Herald in the first half. But at the same time I couldn’t take my eyes off of the performance.

The tickets were only £2, but to be honest I would have paid to see that play in London at 20 times the price.

Did you see the play? What did you think of it? Add your comments below.


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