Newcastle University Theatre Society (NUTS) debuted their latest theatrical production last night at Northern Stage, a stage adaptation of Marquis de Sade’s most well-known novel. Though highly ambitious in its scope, comments addressed to The Lampoon’s theatrical correspondent indicate a lukewarm reception.
“I thought that they were trying to do too much, and they spread themselves too thin,” Martin Mallons told The Lampoon. “Sade’s work, in many translations, is over three hundred and fifty pages long, and I think that some thought should have been paid to how to compress the events more effectively. As it was, I felt that it dragged slightly at five hours in total length, and I have to admit that I was on autopilot all through the disembowelment scene.”
Another area of criticism was the level of historical accuracy that the play had striven to achieve. “For me, it had a lot to do with the language,” Carmen Cantwell informed our correspondent. “It was done in an extremely modern French dialect, which frankly brought me right out of the whole thing. I’m not going to be able to watch a man urinate into a weeping sex slave’s face and believe what they’re showing me onstage. There’s no authenticity.”
The show’s director and Theatre Society President, Richard Regis, claimed that every reasonable step had been taken to ensure a performance of considerable verisimilitude. He explained that authenticity had been their greatest concern when workshopping the production. “This has been a massive project, involving many of the University’s schools. We’ve had the History department informing us on how exactly a man would skin a child alive in 18th century France, as well as the School of Medicine acting as consultants on issues of how much human excrement is it safe for our actors to eat during a single performance.”
“What we’ve attempted to do here is a triumph of artistry and innovation, and I really think that people need to set aside their petty criticisms and instead appreciate what is, after all, a timeless story of four libertines locking men, women, and children up in in a castle before raping, torturing and murdering them for five whole months.”
He added, “If people don’t understand that, then it’s clear that they simply don’t get theatre.”