“Will he repulse or entertain?
“Or will he seduce you?” †Bristol Old Vic
Bluebeard is a serial killer. †He kills women; easy to prey on women Ė those who are lonely, naÔve, sweet, confident.† It doesn’t matter who they are; they all make for ripe, effortless pickings.† Well, nearly all of them.
Gallivantís modern day reworking of this dark fairy tale is told from the point of view of the eponymous anti-hero.† From the (dis)comfort of his studded leather chair, Bluebeard relays to us how he came to meet, seduce, beat and often murder his victims.† Sex and control are the name of the game and the three women we hear about are, to differing degrees, complicit in our storytellerís sickness.† They love it, see, the violence.
Paul Mundellís character is matter-of-fact: apart from the reality of his words and the imparting of his vicious crimes, he only comes across as truly unhinged once in the entire monologue. †The soulful lyrics and up-tempo beat of Northern Soul is a feature of this play and Mundellís frustrated dance to Frankie Valliís ĎThe Nightí gives us a real glimpse into his madness (in fact, I think itís my new favourite song), when he shakes in torment, lost in his own space.
We never know why he kills. ďItís innate,Ē he says.† And if a woman dares to pry into his past, his thoughts, his life Ö sheís for it!† And, of course, she deserves it.
I hated†Bluebeard†for its storyline, which seemed to sit uneasily with the whole audience.† As a woman, I wanted to thump this protagonist of pain, to throw my glass at him, to maybe even shoot him.† †I wanted to protect every woman I have ever met.† From Bluebeard and from men like him.†† It was equally uncomfortable viewing for a man, I was assured by my male companion, ďDonít give away tricks of the trade. †And Ö please donít kill women!Ē
So, no, Bluebeard did nothing to seduce me (Iíd hoped he would); not attractive in the slightest.† Along with the half dozen strip fluorescents, which were used to clever effect to represent the women and the craziness, he jarred me.† My eyes, I fear, are still suffering from the stage lighting.† And that maddening gentle hum throughout the play – is it still there? †In our heads? ††A warning that wonít disappear?
Bluebeard†is on at the Old Vic until Saturday 15th†June
– Review by†Becky Condron