Giulietta

Fri 1st – Sat 16th August 2014

reviews

Anna Grace Symington

at 18:33 on 5th Aug 2014

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The premise of Giulietta is an exciting one, that has not previously been explored in theatre. The play presents the final meeting between the young Beethoven at the beginning of his deafness and the woman to whom he dedicated Moonlight Sonata - Countess Giulietta. With all this to get into, the play has the potential to sit amongst the greatest of tragic love stories. However the script does not quite do the matter justice and the performance falls short of these illustrious heights.

There are certainly moments of good writing in this play. The closing scene is a particular triumph. But the script suffers mainly on two accounts. The first is brevity. Just short of an hour long, it is hardly surprising that a topic of this enormity that aspires to such grandeur is unable to be quite satisfactorily realised. The second failing is characterisation. The two protagonists are not given the necessary space to develop into individuals. Thus, while each is treated to a selection of grand lines concerning love and loss, they are not unique to their characters and therefore fail to convince.

The idea behind the play is great, but this is not enough to carry it forth into greatness. It is too good a story to waste, however, and it is clear from the strongest points that playwright Susie Coreth has the capability to write well. It would be great to see a revised version of this wonderful story in the future.

Both Rory Macleod and Euan Kerr gave great performances. Kerr especially, as Beethoven, brought energy and passion to the stage. However, it would have been nice to see more affection from him towards the supposed object of his love. The relationship between them lacks a certain plausibility when judged on their attitude towards one another. Susie Coreth, as well as writing the play, acted the lead role as Giulietta. Her performance was smooth and her lines well learned. At times she seemed a little over rehearsed but her primary let down was her emotional range. In the key scenes she failed to match her expressions to the ardour of the moment. However, with time and practice there is plenty of opportunity for Coreth to relax into the role and bring it the passionate desperation it requires.

With improved performance this play would receive a three star review and with a revised script on top it has the potential to receive top star ratings. For now it falls just shy of this. But it certainly one to watch for the future.

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Xavier Greenwood

at 23:47 on 5th Aug 2014

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In 1802, Ludwig van Beethoven found his life falling to pieces – he found himself on the cusp of losing his hearing, his career and his lover Giulietta Guicciardi, the muse of the Moonlight Sonata. Performed by a trio of St Andrews students, ‘Giulietta’ is an enactment of the final meeting between the eponymous figure and Beethoven. Though the story is interesting at heart, the play stands at just forty minutes, which is not nearly long enough to develop fully either the plot or the characters; when this is coupled with unconvincing acting, the performance falls a little flat.

The prologue begins as the final bars of Beethoven die away and comprises a conversation between Count Moritz and Giulietta, who is subsequently prompted to tell the story of her final encounter with Beethoven. The composer has become even more quick-tempered than is customary, as his attempts to write what will become the Moonlight Sonata are continually frustrated by his failing hearing; he has little left aside from the love of Giulietta, to whom he offers a simple ultimatum: “we can choose to live in happiness or die in unhappiness”.

The main issue with the performance as a whole is in the inconsistency of the acting. Beethoven (Euan Kerr) is compellingly depicted, as the apexes of his anger are symbolically marked by hammering on the piano and verbally marked by piercing shouts of frustration – it truly feels as if Beethoven’s whole self is being ripped apart. By contrast, Giulietta (Susie Coreth) is less believable. Whilst, in the prologue, she convincingly depicts the loss of her love with wan wistfulness, her performance subsequently flags – it lacks emotional resonance, both in terms of facial expressions and delivery, which is unfortunate since this is not for any deficiencies in the script.

The script’s only weakness is in the fact that it lacks an emotional climax, and a symbolic action of closure; it just ends. This is made all the more surprising by the fact that the play is a mere forty minutes in length - an extra twenty minutes of padding would be welcomed.

Although ‘Giuletta’ shows glimmers of promise – it can certainly improve over the course of its run at the Fringe – at least for the moment it feels incomplete, being let down by inconsistent acting and an unsatisfying ending.

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