Forced Entertainment, Emmanuelle Enchanted

Review in Issue 12-3 | Autumn 2000

I was a little nervous about this show. I first saw Emmanuelle Enchanted at the Royal Court Theatre in 1992 and it was glorious. At that time, it was the fourth show by Forced Entertainment that I had seen and was, I thought, the most perfect realisation of their aesthetic up to that point. Eight years on and not much theatre has thrilled me as much as Emmanuelle Enchanted did then. Forced Entertainment’s shows remain ‘must-sees’, of course, but none since have achieved the kind of iconic resonance that Emmanuelle Enchanted has in my memory. This memory is the yardstick by which so many shows are measured – and, all too often, are found wanting. For this reason, I approached this re-staging with some trepidation. What if, after all this time, it seemed clunky and dated – more of a museum piece than vital theatre? What if I had simply misremembered it?

As it turned out, I had forgotten much. I remembered the show’s frenetic pace but had forgotten just how physically demanding it is. I had remembered it as lovely, sweet poetry but I had forgotten its sly wit, and I remembered, of course, its fairylight backdrop but had forgotten the fantastic cartoonish soundtrack that accompanied much of the performance. It was a relief to realise Emmanuelle Enchanted was not only as good as I’d always maintained. It was better.

Arguably, some small part of this show’s pleasure for me was simply empty nostalgia but as I left the Purcell Rooms the city and the night seemed charged with poetry and possibility. This is Forced Entertainment’s great power and this re-staging reminded me once more why we should treasure them.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jun 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-3
p. 27