The Secret Rapture
From my second row seat, I can see the actors' expressions very clearly. I read that it was once hailed as the best play written since the War (W.W.II). The writer David Hare is highly acclaimed, and I should not be disappointed.
The two and a half hours (eight acts with one intermission) sailed by. I became so involved in this drama that I found myself dreaming about it later on.
The story opens with the form of a dead body completely covered under a brown bedsheet on a small double bed. The room is dark, and a blonde woman sits in a chair in silence. The door creeks open. Her sister, a well-dressed woman stands in the door way staring at the body.
The story opens and ends in death and silence. But it is hardly a quiet play, with four actresses and two actors. Each character will remind you of someone you know, I'm sure.
Jenny Seagrove plays virtuous and liberal Isobel, the nice daughter who misses her father but does not get a chance to grieve. Her widowed stepmother Katherine is self-destructive and dependent. Her sister Marion, a career woman who is self-righteous and seemingly unfeeling, forcefully demands Isobel to accept responsibility for their young stepmother.
This forces Isobel into a difficult situation: to continue the status quo in her work or to employ her stepmother to whom she feels a duty to her deceased father.
The Sunday Times Review wrote that it is a very English play. Isobel displays the English qualities of loyalty, integrity, politeness, tolerance, and ultimately rebellion. Her sister Marion, on the other hand, is direct, demanding, ambitious, and intolerant. I could see myself in Marion once bulldozing through the offices where I used to work. I was the in-your-face kind of person that wanted to get things done, a perfectionist, intolerant of failure and laziness. Nowadays, I just want to relax and be left alone to do my own thing.
It's so easy to identify the "acts" and "strong suits" each character lives in. [See side panel.]
The play is a powerful one. I feel as if I've reached another level of appreciation for the art of live drama on stage. Without the computerised effects of animation and sound as experienced in modern day movies, the story is communicated only via actors and the physical set. And the audience is forced to focus on the facial expressions, body language, and what is being said.
As a musician, I was particularly taken by the music composed and played for this play at the Lyric Theatre in London. Who was the composer? I'd sure like to know.
13 December 2003 Saturday
acts and strong suits - Landmark Forum terminology (article)
The Secret Rapture by David Hare is playing at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue in London (Piccadilly Circus tube station)