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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: Marat/Sade

Players - Marat / Sade. Feb 2011.
(Photo by Adam Scotti via Flickr embed)

by Rachel Zuroff

The McGill Players’ Theatre presents this week and next The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade or Marat Sade by Peter Weiss. As the title indicates, Marat/Sade is a play within a play. Imprisoned within the Charenton Asylum, the Marquis de Sade writes and directs a play of Jean-Paul Marat’s death for the education and rehabilitation of the inmates, but to the consternation and horror of the asylum director controversial political opinions are espoused and chaos threatens to overcome the production. Marat/Sade deals with themes of freedom, oppression, poverty, riches, action, inaction.  We’re never sure as audience members whether we’re meant to identify and sympathize with Marat or revile his fiery written words dictated without action.  

The actors of the Players’ Theatre put on an impressive show in their latest production.  Recently seen on the Players’ scene was a post-modern rewriting of The Oresteia. Taking up the mantle, Marat/Sade similarly presents a play with themes of freedom and madness in which a chorus kindly tells the audience what to think and leaves it doubting all the same. 

Marat/Sade includes musical interludes and commentaries which are its most engaging moments. Although well-acted, the play sometimes drags because it has no strong narrative. Yet, the actors completely engross their audience when they sing, both solely and in chorus. Ayla Lefkowitz as the Herald is absolutely captivating. She commands the stage in the spotlight and out while the rest of the cast successfully performs as an ensemble in their convincing portrayals of their characters, their madness, their pain and their passion. 

Marat/Sade runs February 9-12 & 16-19. For more details click here.
Running time: 2 hours.

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