young creature with the voice of an angel. and 7 there is this senile. offensive. sexless. ageless monster. They are the same person. and you can’t explain where the power is. You can take it apart - which is why that person is played by three people. both man and woman. and our piece takes the image apart musically.’
Bartlett and Bloomfield‘s past work. together and separately. demonstrate an enduring fidelity to these concerns: the lush Victorian melodrama of Lady Aadley's Secret. the arcane operatic texture ofAriadne on Naxos. the deeply personal investigations ofsexual alienation and desire in A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep. (.‘ommcnts Bartlett. ‘We do like things to be gorgeous: we do not have fantasies about doing shows where people sit on sofas and drink Nescafe. lfyou asked me to draw a picture of a theatre I wouldn’t draw a black box. I‘d draw a place with a big red curtain and lots of seats — and actually we never work in those places. but onstage that dream of theatre haunts and informs what is happening. So you‘ve got bits of it there — gestures and artefacts and music that have been stolen from that theatre and come back into collision with contemporary theatre.’ There is a distinctive atmosphere about their work as a whole: an atmosphere of decadence. fin-de-siecle. subversion and corruption.
This is not unrelated to the firm stand the two take as gay artists. working in a world that is witnessing rising hostility to the gay community in general. Figures like Simeon Solomon and Oscar Wilde remain key icons in their imagery and their aesthetic patently repels the idea of naturalness and naturalism. developing a consistent focus on artificiality. on synthesis. Bloomfield observes. ‘It‘s about daring to be passionate onstage. physically. and musically. and pushing it to see how far it will go. rather than shying away. and being scared. It is also not shying away from something because someone might say “that‘s camp": Neil and I relish the fact that it‘s camp. where the rest of theatre seems to try and avoid being camp.‘ Bartlett adds. ‘lt's precisely in those moments other people call camp or decorative or sleazy. that‘s where the piece starts to bite. I sometimes wonder if people say how can this be gay theatre —~ what's it got to do with contemporary gay life'.’ Nicholas and I say “that's a really good question‘~ -- now scene 2! l-‘asten your seatbeltsl'
We‘re all holding ourselves ready for the ride. which promises to be one the most genuinely exciting and inspiring works on the l’ringe. The tale itselfis richly promising. and Bartlett is confident that the emotional strength of the original will be preserved. ‘lt‘s like ('hinese boxes: there's story within story within story. but at the heart of it is the classical Balzac story. Someone at a party telling a story. and its centre is the love of Sarrasinc for La Zambinellaf The two stand out a rare beacon ofsophistication in a Festival getting flabbier by the year. ('omprotnise is a word they don't seem to understand: from here on. their future holds unparalleled potential. .S'arrasine. written and direeted ltv .Vei/ Bartlett and .\'ie/tolas Bloomfield has its worldpremiere at the Traverse 'Iilteatre. Grasmtarket. ll .rlug- 1 Sept. at various times andpriees. It will tour to ling/and. and return to the Third lzive ( ‘entre. (i/asgoiv on 2/ f Nov—l Dee. J‘
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