I’m not normally negative about productions, because I really enjoy the excitement of just being in a theatre whatever I’m seeing, but Danton’s Death was very unsatisfying. I was glad that this production was short. I also think if there had been an interval, many members of the audience might not have come back after a break.
There was lots of promise when this production was advertised. For example, Toby Stephens was in the title role, and his recent performance in The Real Thing at the Old Vic, earlier this year, was excellent. There was a large cast, so I had an expectation of lots of action, and a really busy fast-moving production. I also thought that considering the subject matter, the space would be used in inventive ways. Whereas there have been some criticism of the RSC’s Morte D’Arthur, for being too long and laboured, at least that production made attempt to be a theatrical event. The problem with the National’s production of Danton’s Death was that it relied on its language to hold the audience’s attention and the dialogue was just very dull. The verbal images were so laboured, and most of the time I just cringed. I felt Toby Stephens made a really good job to attempt to bring some emotion to his speeches, but he was working with very little.
I am in agreement with many bloggers and reviewers in that Danton’s death was much more exciting than his life. Indeed, I hid my face behind my hands – a very thrilling ending.
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