The Blue Room

Previewed 28 September 2000, Opened 2 October 2000, Closed 25 November 2000 at the Haymarket Theatre in London

A major revival of David Hare's play The Blue Room, freely adapted from La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler, and starring Michael Higgs and Camilla Power.

Girl meets boy, meets girl, meets boy... The cab driver, the au pair, the married woman, the politician, the model, the playwright, the actress, the arisrocrat, the girl. A series of sexual encounters - erotic, illegal, vulgar, gentle, corrupt, dishonest - with all the parts played by two actors.

The cast features Michael Higgs and Camilla Power. Directed by Loveday Ingram. This production comes into the West End from the Chichester Festival Theatre. PLEASE NOTE: Contains scenes and language of an adult nature. David Hare's West End plays include Amy's View, Plenty, Secret Rapture, The Breath of Life and Skylight.

"The only point of reworking La Ronde is to find exact modern counterparts for the soldiers, housemaids, good time girls, and poets of Schnitzler's Vienna. The cab driver, au pair, model and media celebrity who now take their place are all to be found on the contemporary scene; but before they have taken many steps in the sexual daisy chain it becomes clear that David Hare has released the play from Vienna without establishing it anywhere else. The text is littered with superficially modernised details that send out the wrong message, and with characters who remain chained to the 19th-century story line while performing cunnilingus and snorting cocaine. The piece is much at its best when Hare abandons Schnitzler and trusts to his own invention. Loveday Ingram's well-paced production offers the lithe partnership of Camilla Power and Michael Higgs, who excel in exchanges between dominance and submission. The trouble is that they are partners rather than transformation artists; so that the effect of reducing Schnitzler's 10 characters to a cast of two is to convert a story of insatiable promiscuity into one of blamelessly monogamous role-playing." The Sunday Telegraph

"My respect for my male colleagues among the London theatre critics is tremendous but there are occasions when the more susceptible would be wise to take their wives to work. Underwear undoes them. Lace and Lycra blurs their critical faculties. Hence the 'pure theatrical Viagra' reaction to the premiere of The Blue Room and its series of sexual encounters in which Nicole Kidman in her scanties stole the critics' breath, leaving them panting somewhat indecently. Chichester Festival's starless production at the Haymarket Theatre Royal is an opportunity to scrutinise the play without the obscuring drool. In a super-chic, modern setting, the shame, disgrace, loss of innocence and danger of Schnitzler's liaisons have no place. There's little pain, not much passion and plenty of disappointment; someone might get screwed, but no one gets hurt. A hundred years and a slackening of morality have robbed the piece of its cynical bite, leaving a slight entertainment that makes the unstartling and oversimplified observation that sex can be a heartless and harmless transaction. So much for the promise of something erotic and shocking... Still, slender Camilla Powers is as graceful and leggy as a thoroughbred filly, most effective in the role of a vulnerable young hooker, but rather less convincing as the Sloane seducing the son of one of her friends. As the spoilt schoolboy, the cocksure cabbie or the upper-class twit, Michael Higgs's amusing performance deftly reveals that the average male's capacity for self-deception is inexhaustible." The Mail on Sunday

The Blue Room in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 28 September 2000, opened on 2 October 2000 and closed on 25 November 2000


The Blue Room - 1998 Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen

Previewed 10 September 1998, Opened 22 September 1998, Closed 31 October 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse in London

A play based on La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler and freely adapted by David Hare. Cast stars Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen. Directed by Sam Mendes.

"With Sam Mendes as the director, David Hare as the writer/adapter and above all with the achingly beautiful Hollywood star Nicole Kidman in one of the two leading roles, this was always going to be an exceptionally hot ticket... Hollywood stars don't always deliver the goods on the London stage. More worrying still, The Blue Room is based on Arthur Schnitzler's turn-of-the-century Viennese play La Ronde, much loved in the Max Ophuls film version, but a piece that almost always fails to live up to its risque reputation on stage... That is reckoning without the talent on display here. Hare's free adaptation brings the piece bang up to date, set in modern London with the shadow of Aids looming in the background. His script is also packed with excellent jokes. Mendes directs with precision and wit - all 10 sex scenes take place in a black out... Best of all, there are Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen, each of them playing five characters apiece with bravura, skill, real feeling and a sexual charge that at times threatens to blow the roof off the theatre... The play still strikes me as a cleverly executed, glibly cynical jeu d'esprit, rather than a profound meditation on human relationships. In this production, however, you might just as well lie back and enjoy the sheer style and sexuality on display: it's pure theatrical Viagra." The Daily Telegraph

"It was when they hauled on a very smart kitchen-sink unit, setting the scene for a student's seduction of an au pair girl, that I began to feel David Hare was artfully diluting an original bitter sexual cocktail. His Blue Room filters the twilight world of the heterosexual through an opulent glow of modishness. Hare has played loose and clever with a famous old Austrian play... Hare's gentle comedy of sexual manners displaces Schnitzler's serious drama of sex and betrayal. The change is not always for the theatrical better. But there remains at least one alluring compensation not to say come-on. All five females are played in varieties of figure-hugging, titillatingly minimal dress by Nicole Kidman who proves there's more to her than meets the eye... Miss Kidman lacks much theatrical experience. But all five roles are in her elegant, confident grasp. She's firmly set in the glow of her sex appeal. So there's not that much difference in the manners of her French au pair and cockney tart. But she manages all the accent and attitudes in neatly provocative performances... Mendes's super-cool, hip production relies more on the smartness of its atmosphere than emotions. No surprise then that Glen, usually a front-rank, truthful actor gives a disappointingly histrionic set of performances. Only as an aristocrat, wreathed in old-fashioned anxieties does Glen really enthuse Hare's interesting view of how desire makes fools of us all." The London Evening Standard