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Seduction review at Barons Court Theatre London

This new and very loosely based adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 19th century drama La Ronde is enjoyable, amusing and well-paced but its modern, non-judgemental approach means the play loses much of its impact.

American author Jack Heifner keeps the structure, a chain of seduction in which a character from a sexual encounter in one scene then has a liasion with a new partner in the next scene and so on. However, he updates the characters and making them all gay so the soldier becomes a sailor, naturally, and the aristocrat a Hollywood producer.

This production offers plenty of attractive, naked torsos but not a particularly gay interpretation. Instead, director Tim McArthur displays a more universal interest in the nature of seduction itself and the ways in which people obtain casual sex. Techniques range from persuasion, payment, predatory stalking and – in one amusing scene involving a very camp writer (Lewis Morton) and actor (Richard Gee) – by what can only be described as talking artistic bollocks.

The five strong cast, taking two roles each, mainly do the script justice. Gareth Watkins is good as a guilt-wracked professor hesitantly cheating on his partner while designer James Galloway’s all-purpose white boxes double-up as beds, tables and chairs.

The script touches on the drawbacks of promiscuity but Schnitzler’s original drew much of its strength from its critique of a society sated with pleasure. Take that away and you are left with the suggestion that impersonal sex with strangers is briefly exhilarating but pretty meaningless, a message already on display in most inner-city bars every weekend.

Production Information

Barons Court Theatre, London , November 9-December 5

Jack Heifner
Tim McArthur
Peter Bull and Juhani Naukkarinen
Cast includes
Richard Gee, Phil Price, Peter Sundby, Lewis Morton
Running time
1hr 15mins

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