Skip to main content

Eternal Love

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
As rom-coms go, Howard Brenton's reimagining of the love affair between twelfth century French philosopher Peter Abelard and his teenage student and nun Heloise d'Argenteuil is cleverer than anything Richard Curtis has ever written. Yet, as the play's title indicates since it was changed from the loftier In Extremis when first seen at Shakespeare's Globe in 2006, despite the prevalence of dialectical and theological arguments between Abelard, Heloise and their pious nemesis, Bernard of Clairvaux, a rom-com is exactly what Brenton has produced.

Both Abelard and Heloise are a pair of precocious, constantly questioning firebrand's in John Dove's restaging of his original production for English Touring Theatre. It's as if they are living embodiments of the trees of knowledge that flank the action as the couple come together in secret. While the anti-establishment ideas of both are indulged before they meet, their coupling as a pair of pleasure-seeking sensualists who can't keep their hands off each other proves to be an incendiary act too far. Heloise may show a progressive sense of self-determination that looks positively counter-cultural, but in the end cutting the relationship off in its prime is the only option for her and Abelard's enemies.

For all the play's seriousness, there's an irreverent swagger about David Sturzager and Jo Herbert's central performances that carries throughout Brenton's audaciously penned text. Sex, ideas and heretical thought, it seems, are natural bedfellows here. When Heloise hands Bernard a copy of Abelard's auto-biography, published “800 years in the future, in English,” the libido-driven dance that follows suggests that the sexual revolution, like the dialectical arguments contained within Abelard's weighty tome, is still very much alive.

The Herald, March 20th 2014


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…