One of the more storied lives of European history gives rise to this splendid little play. Ludwig van Beethoven —a name replete with association— lives up to his reputation through an excellent, passionate performance by Euan Kerr in a play written by student playwright Susie Coreth.
The writing was, on the whole, very tight for a debut. There were only occasional cliché emotional lines, for example, comparing love to music. However, with a historic personality such as Beethoven a hackneyed approach is perhaps somewhat inevitable. Kerr’s performance remained strong throughout, delivering the lines about love and encroaching deafness with a degree of deftness, subtlety and genuine emotion that made me, as an audience member, wince with feeling.
The acting of the other members of the company —while consistent throughout— couldn’t match this intensity, so the play suffered some asymmetricality. Olly Lennard gave a quiet, restrained performance in the first section, which went somewhat to setting up Beethoven as the loud, passionate artist. Niall Kennedy chewed some scenery as Giulietta’s father. The titular Giulietta herself was played with aplomb by Susie Coreth; the kicker is that Coreth is related to the Countess she plays. This had an immediate impact on her performance; embodying her own ancestor, she delivered the lines she wrote with a belief that belied (the only very occasional) cliché.
Utilising the Barron well is a difficult task, but this production could have benefitted from some more flamboyant direction in places, with blocking being a little staid at times. Nonetheless, the heraldic device placed at the entrance was a nice touch to get the audience in the mood. The costumes were very good —placing the action in the correct period of Viennese fashion— and they helped to set the ambiance, exemplifying the research and love the production team had put into the entire production. And the love given by the cast and crew is often equal to the love received by the audience. I for one left quite satisfied with this neat little exhibition of Beethoven’s other passions.
Photo credits: Aiden Bowman