[Milton-L] PL on stage--you are warned

Norman Burns nburns at binghamton.edu
Mon May 22 14:36:39 EDT 2006

    Since List members might be venturing to London this summer and 
therefore wish to run out to Richmond to see PL in stage performance, I 
will share with you a recent communication from a friend (not a 
Miltonist herself) who has seen it.  Here is her report.

    "We had no expectations about "Paradise Lost" on stage in Richmond 
so did not suffer much disappointment at this grotesque show.  Norman, I 
think you would have despised it and throttled the cast at the Q&A 
session that followed the performance.
    First, the good things about it:  Excellent, expressive and graceful 
choreography performed by beautiful young bodies.  The dancing set the 
mood and I think the choreographer had actually read Milton.  Another 
plus: Adam and Eve, totally nude, were really good and their big scene 
was well written.  It was a fine directorial touch to have them get 
dressed in astoundingly ugly business suits (he in navy blue, she in 
gray) that underlined the stunning beauty of their nudity. 
    Some things I did not understand: the narrator, called "the Son" and 
showing off bandaged hands, lurked in the background throughout the 
play.  My memory may be faulty (ha!) but does not the poem end with A&E 
leaving hand in hand etc?  This PL ended with an additional scene:  "The 
Son" bleeding from his stigmata and telling us all about redemption.   
Blimey, a happy ending!
    The worst: the director and his idea of Satan, and the actor playing 
Satan.  First off, Jasper Britton (Satan) dyed his hair hideous yellow 
and wore a bloodstained white suit: aside from displaying no qualities 
that would make him seductive, he looked amazingly like Gene Wilder in 
Young Frankenstein.  He got a few laughs trying to seduce Eve to be bad, 
and I think they were intentional, but there were many more 
unintentional laughs in act one.  Now I know that Frankenstein creates 
The New Adam who quotes Milton a lot, but is Satan a figure of fun?  I 
think the director (Rupert Goold, avoid him) was trying for a sort of 
Berlin-Cabaret Joel Grey.  Too bad Joel Grey was not available.  Too bad 
Jasper Britton didn't slick back his hair.  Too bad there was nothing 
sinister about Britton.  He was very hammy on stage, always shouting in 
that RSC manner.  I fault the director."
    For another view, check out 
This link reveals that the show is on tour will travel to a number of UK 
venues for 4 nights each, including Oxford and London again  in late June. 


More information about the Milton-L mailing list