EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

La Maladie de la Mort d’Après Marguerite Duras

at Institut francais d’Ecosse

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Beneath all this production’s gilding is sadly base metal.

Image of La Maladie de la Mort d’Après Marguerite Duras
Photo: Nicola-Frank Vachon

Everything about La Maladie de la Mort d’Après Marguerite Duras looks good: there is more than an aroma of French chic here. A woman (naked most of the time) moves meaningfully around the tidy little stage, while well-dressed men in black wander its peripheries reciting prose, playing music and taking videos. It has all the hallmarks of something that should be a profound experience.

But as the old French proverb goes, tout ce qui brille n’est pas or, and beneath all the gilding is sadly base metal. This is hardly surprising, as to take a voice as singular as Duras’, and try to augment, accompany or create and environment for it, is not an easy task.

In the case of Collectif Or NOrmes’ attempt, none of its production’s parts really fit together, and they certainly do little to enhance Duras’ work. The rendition of the text is perfectly fine, ably delivered by actor Bertrand Farge. However, although the music and sound design (David Couturier) are executed impeccably, they provide little of interest for the audience (indeed, the music is annoyingly simplistic in places), and show little connection to the text or anything else that is happening.

Similarly, although the video work (Martin Rossi) is often (but not always) striking, the way in which it is processed hardly seems to warrant its live capture, and again it adds very little to anything that is heard or seen.

Finally, although the dancer (Alexandra Naudet) gives the air of bringing something significant to the proceedings, with many pointed looks towards the audience, her movements and poses express almost nothing relevant. Her nudity is in no way gratuitous, but is at the same time, without any real importance.

It is not that any of these performers are bad: far from it, they all display both enormous confidence and ability in what they do. It is just that from a creative point of view, this simply does not work.