Andrew Scott as the irresistible Angel in the original production, at the Crucible, Sheffield, 2002.
What is it?
It’s another play (the third I've read recently) by Welsh playwright Peter Gill, originally produced in Sheffield, England, in 2002.
What’s it about?
Gill has taken the Lulu plays of German playwright Frank Wedekind, which tell of an irresistibly beautiful young woman who ruins the lives of all the men who come in contact with her, and adapted them so “Lulu” is a young gay man in nineteenth-century London and Paris.
Ah, the epoch of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray.
Yes. I often thought of Wilde’s lover Bosie as I was reading the play, who had an analogously disastrous effect on Wilde’s life as Angel, the central character in Original Sin, has on those around him.
Plays sometimes don’t lend themselves well to reading as texts. Does this one make for good reading?
No. Rather like another play of Gill’s that we looked at recently, the text is often difficult to follow as there are few stage directions.
Is it at least thematically engaging?
No. For me, this reeks of an intellectual exercise (“adapt classic hetero play from German into gay play in English”) and the worst of highly subsidized theatre. It’s definitely not a good read, but I wouldn’t want to see it onstage either. This is a “big” play, requiring a large cast and fancy sets, but it amounts to sound and fury signifying nothing, a lot of actors running around being desperately serious about a long-drawn-out story whose end is predictable. This reminds me of my worst theatrical experiences.
The only thing that would make it bearable as a piece of theatre would be a devastatingly sexy actor playing Angel, but that’s not saying anything for the play itself. There’s nothing here: selfish young beauty leads everyone to disaster. No suspense, no real drama.
I’m guessing this isn’t getting a star?