BWW Review: THERÈSE RAQUIN at YES 24 STAGE 2, The Tragedy of Those Who Wanted More
"Putrid" was the word used in a review of Émile Zola's novel, THÉRÈSE RAQUIN in the newspaper Le Figaro. When the innovative novel was first published in 1867, readers were shocked at the explicit illustration of adultery and murder, therefore the novel was considered scandalous and leading to the description of being "putrid." However, as the 21st century approached and the novel was adapted into a stage production, THÉRÈSE RAQUIN began to gain popularity, performed into different productions throughout the world. The play adaption was frequently performed by many theatrical companies and students in South Korea. However, it was in early May that one theatrical company announced that they will perform the first Korean musical production. The all-new musical version of THÉRÈSE RAQUIN premiered on June 19th at Yes 24 Stage 2.
THÉRÈSE RAQUIN follows the dramatic story of a young girl Thérèse Raquin who lives with her aunt, Madame Raquin and her ill son, Camille. Thérèse Raquin marries to Camille at the age of 21 and is bound to take care of him. Shortly after they move to Paris, Camille meets up with an old childhood friend, Laurent, who paints for a hobby. He suggests drawing a portrait of Camille and whilst visiting the Rauqin household, he and Thérèse have an affair. The two secretly meet each one another on a regular basis avoiding Camille's eye. Frustrated with her life, Thérèse and Laurent, who is desperate for more, decide to kill Camille. They manage to drown him on a boat ride, disguising it as an accident. Due to her son's sudden death, Madame Raquin suffers from two strokes which eventually lead her to be completely paralyzed except for her eyes. Thérèse and Laurent who are frequently haunted by the fact that they murdered Camille begin to have frequent fights and hatred is the only emotion left for the once happy couple. On top of that, during their numerous fights, they accidentally reveal the truth of Camille's death in front of Madame Raquin. Eventually, the two secretly plot on killing one another, but get caught and commit suicide together.
There are some differences with the musical version compared to the original theatrical productions of THÉRÈSE RAQUIN. First of all, the book of the musical is quite different than the original play. While the main plot is the same, some of the details have been removed. For instance, the scene where Madame Raquin almost manages to expose the truth of Camille's death during an evening spent with her friends is nowhere to be found in the musical. Also, while there are numerous supporting characters in the original play such as Michaud, Olivier, and Suzzane, the musical is performed by four actors, each portraying the roles of the principal characters, Thérèse Raquin, Camille Rauqin, Madame Rauqin, and Laurent LeClaire.
Another main difference is the addition of songs. The songs were overall pleasant, well suited with the show, and it definitely was refreshing to see a version of THÉRÈSE RAQUIN with music added. Out of the many numbers on the show, the song that Laurent sings to Thérèse while drawing her was my personal favorite because it changed the somewhat explicit adultery actions into dancing and the lyrics of describing how he paints was beautiful. Also, there is a specific song that Camille sings while he haunts Thérèse and Laurent. While this song is being performed, the actor that portrays Camille comes out barefoot, pale-faced, and staring at the far distance. It is remarkable to see how his actions and expressions change when he is singing to Thérèse and when he is singing to his mother.
THÉRÈSE RAQUIN is truly a complicated piece of work. Despite the intense drama and tragic ending of the musical, I believe that the true charm lies in the character of Thérèse. She spent her entire life shackled to Camille and Madame Rauqin, listening to their orders. Then, she tastes a bit of freedom and finds what she truly wants through Laurent. Though it is true that her method of achieving what she wants has immorality, the strength and will she shows is remarkable, making her a unique character. In summary, THÉRÈSE RAQUIN shows how Camille needed Thérèse to feel alive, how Thérèse needed Laurent to feel free, and how Laurent needed Thérèse and Camille's death to prosper.
The enchanting story of THÉRÈSE RAQUIN, a musical that will show you what humans are capable of once their heart is set on something ends on September 1st. Tickets start at 44,000 KRW and can be purchased at www.yes24ticket.com or the ticket box offline. Be sure to check the website for more discount information.
For more information, please visit www.yes24ticket.com.
Photo Credit: @m_therese_raquin