First look at Obsession with Jude Law

Old Vic meets Young Vic meets musical meets movie…

I just left the Barbican after an interesting hour and fourty minutes in their beautiful theatre watching “Obsession” with the Oscar-nominated Jude Law and the Dutch theatre household name Halina Reijn. I had very high expectations. And was super excited to have this chance. These kind of tickets go out really fast. Here is my first review, so take it with a pinch of salt. It is subjective and entirely bound by my experience.

There was so much work in this piece. It showed. Anywhere from the technical effort in setting up the stage to the anxiety and courage of the three Dutch actors that performed in English for the first time. It is hard. I can run a workshop or a seminar in English without a problem, but I don’t have to follow an exact script, and it still can be challenging.

My final verdict though, and I am really sorry to say it so openly, but I am disappointed. Nevertheless, I did experience: awe, shock, cheesyness, confusion, boredome, curiosity, disgust and other very random feelings. None of these too intensely.

There was no suspense. I was not convinced by any feelings of love and hate between the characters. The inciting incident was fabulous, but i failed to follow the story line into a climax or any sort of unravelling of the events that would make me want to know what is coming next.

At points i felt I was at the Old Vic: classic acting, emotional expressionism. Mostly screaming.

At others, i was at the Young Vic: complex technical structures and avant-garde abstractionism to induce deep thinking and a variety of perceptions. In this case just confusion.

At yet other points: musical! Yes I did love the lyric opera, and no it was not Jude Law singing at any point during the production.

The naked bits. I want to discuss these in a few sentences.

1. The love-making scene at the beginning felt overly artistic.

2. The clean-up scene after the murder, probably intended to show the obsession between Gino and Giovanna, fell short of it. Getting the actress naked didn’t make the feeling more intense for the viewers unfortunately.

3. All the actors seemed comfortable in their bodies, though Jude Law came across as very self-conscious. I am puzzled as to whether his posing was intentional? And quite keen to watch Visconti’s movie now.

Lastly, there were loads and loads of hints to remind us that this was based on a movie: the treadmill for running on the spot, the orchestra soundtrack, the background projectors, some clichés, Jude Law…

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