Madame de Sade

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 13 March 2009, Opened 18 March 2009, Closed 23 May 2009 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London

The Donmar Warehouse present Yukio Mishima's play Madame de Sade in London in a production translated from the Japanese by Donald Keene and directed by Michael Grandage and starring Dame Judi Dench.

Against her mother's wishes, Renee remains vehemently devoted to her husband, the Marquis de Sade, the notorious aristocrat imprisoned in the Bastille for his lurid escapades and licentious behaviour. Set in Paris, as it hurtles towards a violent revolution, Mishima's poetic masterpiece brings to life the fascinating story of the Marquis de Sade told through the eyes of six remarkable women.

The cast for Madame de Sade in London features Judi Dench as 'Madame de Montreuil' along with Rosamund Pike as 'Renée', Frances Barber as 'Comtesse de Saint-Fond', Fiona Button as 'Anne', Deborah Findlay as 'Baronesse de Simiane' and Jenny Galloway as 'Charlotte'. The production is directed by Michael Grandage with designs by Christopher Oram, lighting by Neil Austin, music and sound by Adam Cork and video art and projection designs by Lorna Heavey. Judi Dench's recent West End theatre credits include Noel Coward's Hay Fever (Haymarket Theatre 2006), William Shakepeare's All's Well That Ends Well (Gielgud Theatre 2004) and David Hare's A Breath of Life (Haymarket Theatre 2002).

Japanese playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and essayist Yukio Mishima (1925 - 1970) wrote Madame de Sade in 1965. Mishima is perhaps best known for his nihilistic post-war writings, and the circumstances of his ritual suicide by seppuku. Mishima wrote 40 novels - including his four book masterpiece The Sea of Fertility - 20 books of essays, one libettro and 18 plays.

"Rosamund Pike is affecting and utterly believable as Renee, and Judi Dench formidable as the moralistic Madame de Montreuil... Frances Barber relishes her role as the voluptuous and decadent Comtesse de Saint-Fond... Madame de Sade remains a steadfastly unlikeable play, formally impressive but glacially cold, which is pretty much what Yukio Mishima was aiming for: an aesthetic of "flames seen through ice", the quality he found and so admired in Racine. Michael Grandage's impeccably classy production remains faithful to that aesthetic." The Sunday Times

"Miss Dench is appearing on stage beside two of the most wily scene stealers in the business - Frances Barber and Rosamund Pike - and yet, for all that, one has to acknowledge that she has proved herself to be an actress who is still very much at the top of her game... One admires Michael Grandage for having the courage to try something that is different, and, if this eagerly awaited production is not an unqualified success, it is no fault of his or of the three principals. Rather it is Mishima's work which, even with a translator as adept as Donald Keene agonising over his every last syllable, doesn't quite ring true." The Sunday Telegraph

"The Marquis de Sade remains one of the most controversial. A scandalous libertine, his theatrical experiments on the nature of sexuality and eroticism involved prostitutes, servants, potions, lotions, whips, enslavement, crucifixes and chandeliers... Japanese playwright Mishima, who evidently shared De Sade's exhibitionist streak - his botched attempt at ritual suicide with a samurai sword in front of hundreds meant he finished up having his head hacked off by a friend - was fascinated by how De Sade's wife felt about his appetites... In Madame De Sade, Frances Barber is perfectly cast as the saucy courtesan Madame de Saint-Fond, who cracks her riding whip and smacks her lips as she tells Deborah Findlay's amusingly prudish Madame Simiane of the 'unpleasantness' De Sade enjoyed courtesy of a servant girl he had beaten mercilessly with a broom. Judi Dench bristles with dismay and disapproval as the Marquis's mother-in-law, and implores the two women to pull what strings they can to clear his name. At which point Rosamund Pike's lovely Madame de Sade joins the fray. The visual splendour of Christopher Oram's grand interior and Stephanie Aditti's sumptuous dresses cannot, alas, disguise the play's dullness nor, in Michael Grandage's beautifully acted production, compensate for the absence of eroticism... Far from emerging a red-hot, whipcracking convert to les liaisons dangereuses, Mishima leaves me both unconvinced and, worse, indifferent." The Mail on Sunday

Presented as the third production of the Donmar Warehouse Season at the Wyndham's Theatre which runs from September 2008 to August 2009 and comprises of three other plays: Anton Chekhov's Ivanov, William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Madame de Sade at the Wyndham's Theatre in London previewed from 13 March 2009, opened on 18 March 2009 and closed on 23 May 2009.