Ripped from the literary womb, and brought kicking and screaming onto stage, this is the kind of bastard adaption we wish to disown the moment we cast our gaze upon it. Bliss, originally penned by Peter Carey, with its satiric portrayal of the middle class should prove rich source material. It’s narrative and characters should make for a sumptuous affair but here, stage treatment has done nothing but allow the authors original work to shine. This isn’t a bad thing per-say, but shouldn’t a work’s second coming add some greater depth or even just a little liveliness?
The cast do what they can with what is at hand – which is very little, even during the work’s ‘high points’. There is some serious word porn at play and for anyone into that kind of thing you will, for brief moments, be entertained. The emergence of some great physical comedy is almost there but annoyingly it’s just not that tangible. In the second act all sense is lost with both the narrative and the performance itself left feeling confused and lacking, a tawdry mess.
Production is near perfect, though some of the edges are a little frayed and need pulling tighter to fully support this vision. If the creative team had spent less energy on trying to perfect all the wizardry of this production, and instead spent more on dramaturgy, could something more amazing have emerged? Matt Lutton, whose direction is usually beyond reproach, here has failed to deliver anything more than frigid characters bereft, in a beige–toned wasteland of mediocrity.
Judging by the amount of walk outs at interval, the consensus is that this one is a stinker and at 170 minutes run time, watching paint dry would be more entertaining. Why someone felt the need for yet another re-staging of Bliss also needs interrogating when, simply put, and aside for all its wordy brilliance, it’s a mid–ranking novel from 1985 which has already received film and operatic treatments. Yet again we leave the theatre feeling disappointed by the main stage, for here in Bliss their strive for excellence has instead taken a sharp nose dive, crashing to earth and leaving no survivors; a bloody mess. The result is well short of what we should expect from our industry ‘leaders’. No Stars.