Told By An Idiot, Casanova

Review in Issue 20-1 | Spring 2008

This gender bending retelling of the master seducer’s story was fun and often funny, even if it was rather uneven. With Casanova recast as a disingenuous but sexually irresistible woman (Hayley Carmichael), the plot gambolled around Europe, its travels punctuated by regional vignettes: a prison break in Italy, a bullfight in Spain, a mountain climb in the Alps.

The dialogue, written by Carol Anne Duffy, sometimes showed a little too much of the poet’s touch. Like an eighteenth-century courtesan showing a bit more leg than necessary, it could have left more to the imagination. Then again, the colloquially anachronistic banter during Casanova’s jaunt round Northern England was truly inspired.

Carmichael gave a sweet, touching, world-weary performance as the famous lothario, her lowest moments tinged with a heartfelt sadness. Casanova’s advancement through the years was competently controlled in Carmichael’s physical performance. Aside from Carmichael and the happily exuberant ‘kitchen boy’ (Tonin Zefi), however, there was a disappointing lack of edge to the performances.

There were satisfying comic touches – the row of spectacularly daft hairstyles lowered onto the heads of some wonderfully foppish courtiers; the bull fight that turned into a dance of love – but they were offset by some extraneous and indulgent dance sequences.

It was a show that never quite knew what it wanted to be, as it shambled along a narrow causeway between bawdiness and sensitivity. But if the result was a bit muddy, it was the kind of mud you wouldn’t mind splashing around in.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 20-1
p. 33