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YEP Communicator Catherine Tully...

...on The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary! at the Everyman

Described as a "spectacularly absurd comedy" I can’t but agree.  Madame Bovary is portrayed by a 4 person cast acting out multiple personas and thus encountering several fleeting costume changes which add to the quick comedy of the play.

"The play offers hilarious slapstick entertainment which is accompanied by the unique framing that lends itself to clever asides and a multitude of humorous double entendre." 

It’s inconceivable how the actors kept a straight face at times.

Aside from the dialogue, the cleverly designed set itself (constructed of chalk board) also incorporates humour as the actors are able to sketch out their own props throughout the play. The minimalist set design means characters rearrange the props themselves carrying tables around as they set the scene for the next amusing episode.

A pivotal moment takes place at a Ball where Emma Bovary experiences a whirl of confusing light shows and turmoil as she endures her dull drunken husband’s behavior alongside being romanced by a waltzing suave Spaniard. The series of romances of Emma Bovary are thoroughly entertaining; from awkward comical touches to hysterical flirtation and outrageous coach journeys, her relationships fill each scene with laughter.

The audience is kept engaged throughout the play as it swerves the more serious elements of Gustave Flaubert’s novel. The actors hastily slip in and out of character, apparently breaking from script, to state their own opinions on how the story is best told. This deliberately chaotic and disorganised approach works to ensure the play is a lighthearted comedy that manages to avoid the harsh ‘tragedy’ of Madame Bovary.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t want it to end.