Currently in rep with Romeo & Juliet and Joan of Arc, Faction Theatre are performing a reworking of the film and novel The Talented Mr Ripley at The New Diorama Theatre. The story follows the muti-faceted Ripley, who ingeniously and deceptively works his way into the trust of the Greenleaf family. Ripley preys on the desire of Mr and Mrs Greenleaf to have their fun-loving son return home from an extended trip to Italy – Mrs Greenleaf has leukaemia and only a few months to live. Tom Ripley is outwardly a social nobody, a bit of a geek, the boy who got picked on at school. Inside he is teeming with anxieties and self-loathing; avaricious and deceptive he is filthily opportunistic. Fooling the anxious parents into parting with a decent sum of their ship-building capital he goes as their embassy on an expenses paid mission which finds him developing an obsessive and ultimately fatal attachment to the heir of the Greenleaf dynasty.
The Talented Mr Ripley was great fun to watch. It’s fast paced and slick and evokes many of the same psychologically thrilling thoughts and emotions as the film. This production is exceptionally well acted and the cast display their skills flawlessly both individually and in ensemble work. Lighting, sound and set are stylised and make an effective statement. These strategies obviously aim to recreate aspects of the film on stage where cinematic techniques would be otherwise impossible, and they are vital to achieving the tense claustrophobia of the story. Christopher Hughes in the title role is faultless, dynamically shifting from internal paranoia and obsessive tendencies to the outward portrayal of a slightly retiring and ever so cooperative nobody. It’s a hugely challenging role within a complex script and he does it thoroughly, confidently and with the smooth operation of the character he is playing.
Given the promise of the simple set, a white, square platform with a hollow centre that the cast weave the story around, the play had the promise of something brand new that didn’t quite deliver. Although well-rehearsed and without hiccup technically, conceptually it feels a bit lazy. For a story so famously made into an iconic film to work in a theatrical setting it’s desirable to feel as though it’s trying to say something new and unfortunately this didn’t indicate any bravery. It’s also very long; at two hours and forty minutes it feels self-indulgent. That being said, for lovers of the film and book this production is a definite must see on the London Off-West End stage.
Review by Annemarie Hiscott
The Talented Mr Ripley
Part of The Factions 2015 rep Season
Saturday 10th January to Saturday 28th February 2015
Tom Ripley is a nobody given the unexpected chance to make a name for himself in Europe.
When he first meets Dickie Greenleaf, Tom’s skills for forging signatures, telling lies and impersonating just about anybody are nothing more than impressive games. But as his friendship with Dickie grows to obsession, Tom’s talents have very dangerous consequences.
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the novel’s publication, multi-award-winning ensemble The Faction breathes fresh life into Patricia Highsmith’s extraordinary psychological thriller about ambition, escapism, and murder.
The Faction are a New Diorama Associate Company. This production is supported by the New Diorama Emerging Companies Fund
Monday 26th January 2015