Monstrous Acts (3 stars)

Bluebeard inspires 15th century prison romance

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This article is from 2012.

Monstrous Acts

The first ten minutes of this production from Australia’s Out Cast Theatre are wordless. When the dialogue finally kicks in, it rather punctures the wonderfully charged atmosphere of the opening scenes, which establish the power dynamic between a pair of inmates in a squalid 15th century prison cell.

Steven Dawson’s play ostensibly concerns the final days of Breton knight and notorious child murderer Gilles de Lavall/Rais (the real-life Bluebeard), but the historical backdrop is largely irrelevant to the real focus of the story: the burgeoning love between Kevin Dee’s high-born, worldly villain and his earnest, lower-class cellmate, Sebastian (Mathew Gelsumini). While the sentimental soundtrack occasionally threatens to overwhelm proceedings, the actors betray a believable, moving rapport, and there are flashes of humour in Dawson’s script that leaven the sombre tone. The intention here is to show the redemptive power of love, but the play’s impact would be greater if Dawson’s Gilles were a more menacing figure – and much more conflicted in his attraction to Sebastian.

C Aquila, 0845 260 1234, until 27 Aug (not 13, 20), 9.30pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£6.50–£8.50).

This article is from 2012.

Monstrous Acts

  • 3 stars

In 1440 Frenchman Gilles De Rais was burned and hanged for the suspected deaths of almost 400 boys. A powerful reimagining of the last days of one of history's most horrifying killers and his search for redemption through the love of another tortured soul. Poetic, erotic and moving, this visually stunning story of two men…

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