Alrighty, another trip to the Donmar – as we’ve already discussed, this place is my jam – but this time not through Barclays Front Row tickets. I tried twice to buy tickets through the scheme (they’re released every Monday at 10am for performances a fortnight ahead) but failed miserably both times, so instead I tried my hand at day seats. The Donmar have 20 standing tickets at the back of the circle sold on the day for £7.50 for every performance, except press night.
I’d never stood at the Donmar before, and was anticipating to spend most of the afternoon listening to the play rather than watching, but I was pleasantly surprised by the view. I was standing towards the centre of the row, and could see most things on stage, despite the tall gentleman in front of me (and I am, for want of a better word, a shortarse). There were just a few moments when people were out of my line of vision, but for £7.50 you can’t really complain. Indeed, watching the show by peering through the gaps between people fits well with the themes of intrigue and voyeurism in the show, and definitely adds something to the experience – very good value for money!
The show itself, however, I was less keen on. For me it felt incredibly uncomfortable to be juxtaposing gentle middle-class tittering humour with scenes of sexual violence, and I just didn’t care about any of the characters. There was also female nudity and no male nudity, and while I understand the former was crucial for the scene, I felt that it could have been balanced with a parallel scene featuring some male nudity. Dominic West’s performance was good, but I felt he lacked nuances at times, and his character wasn’t as sinister as it could have been; a problem symptomatic of the whole production. It was all very good, but there was not much subtlety about it, and it ought to have been much darker than it was.
Janet McTeer was formidable as La Marquise de Merteuil – her feminist tirade made the hairs stand up on my neck – and Elaine Cassidy’s breakdown as Madame de Tourvel was truly horrible to witness. Tom Scutt’s design was incredible, showing yet again the Donmar’s flexibility as a space.
The show was clearly very good, as many other people around me were loving it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Definitely worth going to see though for £7.50, but you’ll have to be quick, as the production ends on Saturday.
More information on the show can be found here.
Day tickets can be bought in person from the Donmar Box Office from 10am each day.
All photographs Johan Persson via Donmar website.