Causing great controversy when it was first published, Émile Zola’s gothic horror Thérèse Raquin will be revived in a brand new adaptation for the stage by Gary Abrahams at Theatre Works for a limited season from 14 August.
More than 150 years after it was written, Zola’s story of murderous star-crossed lovers is still a carnal, cruel and corset-filled masterpiece of French realism. Thérèse Raquin is a superb examination of corrupted morals and turns the city of love into the sinister setting for murder.
Set in the notoriously dingy backstreets of Paris in the late 1800s, Thérèse lives a life of servitude and desperation. After being married off to her sickly cousin in an arranged marriage, Thérèse’s melancholy is marred by the arrival of Laurent, her husband’s friend, with whom she begins an illicit affair. Dangerously in love, their selfish passions unite in a hatred for Thérèse’s husband, which eventuates his cruel and brutal murder at the hands of damaged lovers.
Originally commissioned by Simon Philips for Melbourne Theatre Company before his departure, Gary Abrahams’ new adaptation promises to reinvigorate the text’s shocking power, re-create the visual splendour of 1800s Paris with its set and costumes, and create a terrifying mood with an original piano composition performed live by Christopher De Groot.
Gary Abrahams is an award-winning theatre director and writer with a masters in adaptation from the Victorian College of the Arts. Recently, Gary directed the world-premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s Day One. A Hotel. Evening for Red Stitch Actors Theatre (where he is also dramaturg-in-residence) and was assistant director on many popular MTC productions, including Songs for Nobodies with Bernadette Robinson.
Thérèse will be played for the formidable Elizabeth Nabben. A recent graduate from the VCA, Nabben’s credits include ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore (Malthouse) and Abagail in Sam Strong’s The Crucible (MTC), as well as Winners and Losers and Neighbours for television. Nabben was also featured in Gideon Obarzanek’s ‘dance production for non-dancers’ Dance Better at Parties and its ABC TV screen version.
Created by Abrahams in 2010, Dirty Pretty Theatre is a Green Room Award-winning independent theatre collaborative. With a repertoire including Acts of Deceit (Between Strangers in a Room) and Something Natural But Very Childish at La Mama, and The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant by Reiner Werner Fassbinder at Theatre Works earlier this year, Dirty Pretty Theatre is fast establishing itself as a company to watch.
Director: Gary Abrahams Cast: Paul Blenheim, Oliver Coleman, Marta Kaczmarek, Rhys McConnochie, Elizabeth Nabben, Edwina Samuels, Aaron Walton Set: Jacob Battista Costumes: Chloe Greaves Lighting: Katie Sfetkidis Composition and Music: Christopher De Groot
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St. Kilda
Season: 14 – 30 August 2014
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 or online at: www.theatreworks.org.au
For more information, visit: www.theatreworks.org.au for details.
Image: photo by Sarah Walker