The Information: `Tess of the D'Urbervilles'

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The Independent Culture
What Is It?

Karen Louise Hebden's ill-advised musical adaptation of Thomas Hardy's tragic novel of doomed love and sexual double standards.

Who's In It?

The cast (not surprisingly) fails to get to grips with Justin Fleming's duff rhymes ("written" and "hidden") and deathless couplets such as "But the wife that I marry must know how to farm/She must share my new life and be my right arm". Poppy Tierney is a darkly beautiful, strong-voiced yet inexpressive Tess, saddled with lyrics such as "Who is spinning the wheel?/ Is it Old Chance or somebody's game?/How can I make it stop/ So that my world stays the same?".

What They Say About It

"At the close of the novel, after the heroine has been hanged, Hardy comments that the President of the Immortals had now ended his sport with Tess. What the President of the Immortals did to her was a full body massage and a glamorous makeover compared to the travesty inflicted on her," Paul Taylor, The Independent.

"The show isn't my cup of tea, but there were moments here that raised the hairs on the back of my neck... the best scenes achieve the full-blooded intensity of melodrama and the claustrophobia of chamber opera," Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph.

"...a hit and miss musical which is too full of misses," Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard.

Where You Can See It

Tess of the D'Urbervilles is at the Savoy Theatre, London WC2 (0171-836 8888) to 1 April 2000