The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary at the Royal & Derngate Review

MadameBovaryThe Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary!
Royal & Derngate, Northampton

10-14 May 2016


Reviewed by Clair Bellamy

On Tuesday 10th May I attended the performance of, The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary, at The Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton.

The theatre is situated in the centre of Northampton and is signposted well as you approach it. There are two or three pay and display or ticket operated barrier car parks very close to the theatre. The car park we used was pay and display immediately next to theatre and evening parking after 5pm costs just £1.

The theatre itself is a refurbished older theatre that now has a more modern outlook but still retains some of the atmosphere and magic of the original building. Toilet facilities were clean and accessed down a flight of stairs. Disabled facilities are also available and ramps, lifts and disabled access points are easily accessible. There is a lovely separate bar area and concession stands easily found from the foyer. It would be advisable to pre order interval drinks as it does get very busy. This particular performance was in the old Royal Theatre that has barely changed in a great number of years, in contrast to the modern Derngate, and brought back memories of pantomimes and shows seen as a child. The beautiful gilded mouldings and carvings adorning the walls of the intimate sized theatre, made it the perfect place to put on the performance of an old classic novel with a modern twist.

The novel, Madame Bovary, is a classic tragedy, dealing with the deep despair of a married woman in the 19th century, who turns to lovers and amounts crippling debts to stifle her boredom, and to my mind severe depression, and eventually turns to suicide when life becomes too much. I was intrigued by the labelling of “a comedy” on the theatre listing, however when the performance began it was obvious from the outset that it truly was a comedy but also kept the audience in touch with the tragic story of the original novel. The script used memories from Emma Bovary’s life and put a comedic spin on some, while showing her deepest despair in others. The addition of two extra characters as a framing device facilitated this and gave you hope that the life and death of Madame Bovary might be changed and made better.

The cast were just four members from the Peepolykus Company, who took on numerous parts each and made every one of them an individual. It was a great pleasure to watch four such talented, versatile actors. The sets seemed deceptively complex, using a blackboard exterior to simplify what was seen, but the constant ability for the whole set to be changed backstage and used for different purposes, using properties and lighting, was put to great use and fantastic to see. The costumes while mostly simple were extremely effective and in keeping with the story allowing you to become more immersed in the tale.

If I had the opportunity to watch this play again I would jump at the chance. A fantastic performance by extremely talented actors, filled with laughter and a touch of despair. Amazing!

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £10 (plus transaction fee).

The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 14 May 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811


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