The CPT Company, The Necklace

Review in Issue 13-2 | Summer 2001

Guy de Maupassant’s The Necklace has been described as the perfect short story – a gem of an idea meticulously executed. And when something sits so well in one artistic form it rarely translates to another. But the CPT company have pulled off a coup – they’ve snatched the gem and made it their own, creating a sparkling and well-crafted piece of theatre. They succeed because they manage that rare achievement in a theatre production based on a literary adaptation: they simultaneously stay true to the intention of the original text and extract the essence of that text to reinterpret it successfully in physical and visual language.

Central to the piece is the notion of Mathilde, the story’s central character, ‘trapped’ by the coveted jewellery – the necklace of the title. This is brought to realisation by setting the story inside a jewellery box – the unfortunate Mathilde as the little ballerina turning everlasting circles, never able to move on to the better life she feels she deserves. The scenography is complemented by exquisite live music and strong performances from the two actors, who combine physical motifs with spoken text. The production tends towards melodrama, which works well for the most part – for example in a lovely tango sequence that perfectly presents Mathilde’s hopes and desires.

If I have a criticism, it is that I felt Mathilde was treated a little harshly by the company: she seemed to be presented as a gold digger rather than where I place her – the victim of a society that equates women’s looks with their social status. But this is a minor quibble. My overriding feeling as I left Camden People’s Theatre was one of pleasure and satisfaction – terribly old-fashioned responses, but I feel that it is about time that the pleasure principle was allowed back through the theatre door.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-2
p. 26