Liverpool Playhouse Studio
On tour until November 24-28
Oh this brings back memories, the joys of studying for A level. And in a different language… It always seemed rather odd that somebody as
alienated as Meursault should even have a friend, let alone a girlfriend, still less a fiancèe. But in fairness, Marie probably would have been as played by Lou Broadbent, excitable to the point of hysterical; almost a French cliché, one might say.
The set is cramped, with few props, yet significant, evoking heat and frustration: huge barren walls as barriers; the transience of a vase of flowers, a packed suitcase. The Playhouse Studio is well suited to this claustrophobic portrayal, the heated conflict between Marie and the anonymous sister (here, named Sumaya) of the anonymous Arab shot dead by Meursault, because he was there, in the absence of any discernible reason. Much play is made of the fact we do not know the victim’s name, the title broadening out to encompass the policital situation, French and Algerian.
Both women are appealing to us to take ther side, and to be honest, my sympathies lay with Sumaya (Sara Sadeghi), fierce and feisty if no better than she ought to be. My companion, alas, was less impressed, though both of us found Marie exasperating. In the end, the play was certainly impassioned, in contrast to the actual novel. However, not quite delivering what the concept promised, though much of the audience appeared to warm to it.