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The Blue Room

by David Hare

Donmar Warehouse then Cort Theatre Broadway

Reviews

Hare’s free adaptation brings the piece bang up to date. Set in modern London with the shadow of Aids looming in the background. His script is also packed with excellent jokes. Mendes directs with precision and wit – all 10 sex scenes take place in a black-out, with a caption dryly informing us just how long each coupling lasts – though this most humane of directors also finds moments of unexpected warmth undreamt of by Schnitzler. Mark Thompson contributes a neon-lit set of impeccable minimalist cool, and there’s a hip electronic score by Paddy Cuneen.

Best of all there are Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen, each playing five characters with bravura skill, real feeling and a sexual charge that at times threatens to blow the roof off the theatre. Everyone’s reaction to this show is going to be conditioned by their own sexual preferences. Even I found time to notice that Glen is a handsome hunk with fine cheekbones, who ranges from London cabbie through awkward student to hilariously affected playwright with superb detail and definition. Kidman is a terrific actress who brings all five of her roles to instantly distinctive life, whether she’s playing a cheap tart, a sophisticated married woman, a coke-sniffing waif of a model or a femme fatale of an actress. In this production, you might just as well lie back and enjoy the sheer style and sexuality on display: it’s pure theatrical Viagra.

The Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer

Sam Mendes has mounted a brilliant counterattack to the play’s drawbacks. First, his script is a new version by David Hare that is not just updated but upbeat. Second, and far more importantly for the word at large, he has cast two gorgeous creatures – Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen – to lay all the parts. Nicole Kidman has a delicate, lovely beauty that makes her instantly vulnerable on stage. Iain Glen meanwhile, turns in a cracker of a performance, both wonderfully charismatic and delightfully funny, as he slithers from one plausible liar to another.

Financial Times, Sarah Hemming

One actor and one actress – Iain Glen and Nicole Kidman – play all the roles: five each. The result is a dazzling exhibition of acting, brilliantly and cunningly crafted but completely unostentatious. Kidman makes a thrilling stage debut, all the more so because in this small theatre, not the minutest nuance of voice or movement goes unobserved. Iain Glen returns from the work of big musicals to the straight theatre in glittering form. Hare’s version is, in the deepest and most essential sense, completely faithful to Schnitzler. His changes reflect Schnitzler’s point that sexual and social morality mutually shape one another, and that a sense of need and dominance are simultaneously sexual and social. Who you are and where you are make a difference.

Sam Mendes’s production has a masterly fluency, but it is never fluid at the expense of definition or clear lines of power.

Sunday Times, John Peter

Both performers have the skill and versatility to embody very different people in basic as well as surface ways. Together they give you glimpses of the excitement, wariness, pretension, hypocrisy, callousness, yearning and disappointment of the chase and its aftermath.

The Times, Benedict Nightingale

Glen acts as tuning fork and lightning conductor, always setting the right note, always earthing Kidman’s erotic charge in a carefully defined reality. Sam Mendes’ direction provides the perfect context. The pace is rapid but never rushed. The movement is clear and unfussy. The tone is precisely as it should be: sympathetic but detached. It all makes for a funny, intelligent and razor-sharp satire that strips bare not just the follies of the flesh but also the delusion of desire itself.

Daily News (Broadway), Finton O’Toole

Awards

1999 Laurence Olivier Award Nominations:
Best Actress, Nicole Kidman
Best Actor, Iain Glen
Best New Play, David Hare
Best Director, Sam Mendes
Best Set Designer. Mark Thompson

1999 Laurence Olivier Award:
Best Lighting Designer, High Vanstone

1999 Drama League Awards (Broadway)
Best Actor, Iain Glen
Best Actress, Nicole Kidman

1998 Evening Standard Award:
Special prize for unique Contribution to London theatre
(Nicole Kidman)

Credits

Nicole Kidman
The girl
The au pair
The married woman
The model
The actress
Iain Glen
The cab driver
The student
The politician
The playwright
The aristocrat
Sam Mendes
Director
Mark Thompson
Designer
Hugh Vanstone
Lighting
Paddy Cuneen
Original music
Scott Myers
Sound
Mark Douet
Photographer


Photos


… you might just as well lie back and enjoy the sheer style and sexuality on display: it’s pure theatrical Viagra..

Best of all there are Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen, each playing five characters with bravura skill, real feeling and a sexual charge that at times threatens to blow the roof off the theatre.