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Thérèse Raquin: Theater review by Adam Feldman
As the title character in Thérèse Raquin, Keira Knightley has little to say in the play’s first half hour. Married to her peevish cousin, Camille (Gabriel Ebert)—a sickly giraffe of a man with a doting, controlling mother (Judith Light)—Thérèse is consigned to the margins of a dull 19th-century French country life. But at the end of each scene, Keith Parham’s lighting catches her alone, in the stage equivalent of a close-up, and we see her seethe. She’s a loaded gun, and when Camille moves the family to Paris, she goes off in ruthless lust with a sexy rake, Laurent (Matt Ryan). “Thank God there is still some blood in my veins,” she tells him. “I thought they had bled me dry.”
Evan Cabnet’s production, with its handsome set by Beowulf Boritt, does atmospheric justice to Thérèse’s desperation: When she and Laurent meet for a tryst, his cramped artist’s garret hangs in the middle of the stage, like a cloud. Helen Edmundson’s cold-eyed thriller doesn’t shy from the lurid misanthropy of Emile Zola’s 1867 novel (a tale of adultery and murder and their brutal retribution) or its gothic, Poe-esque denouement. But it does give a sharp sense of the limited options available to women. Thérèse may be a shark—the word in French is requin—but you pity her the way you might a shark in an aquarium.
Studio 54 (Broadway). By Helen Edmundson. Directed by Evan Cabnet. With Keira Knightley. Running time: 2hrs 30mins. One intermission.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam