Mary Beth Smith
4/23/2013 1:04 PM
David Hare proudly proclaims that he freely adapted The Blue Room from Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde. For those unfamiliar with the source material La Ronde was written as a daisy chain of sexual encounters intended to highlight the growing Syphilis epidemic in Schnitzler’s own country, Austria. While many adaptations of La Ronde exist, most notably the musical Hello Again, Hare’s The Blue Room takes the idea one step further by transforming the play from many actors into a two person play that increasingly highlights the revolving door of sexual partners.
The male and female actors play five characters a piece moving from one scene to the next having two sexual partners before transforming into the next character. As each transformation occurs it is hard to shake the previous character, thus leaving an indelible mark on the scenes that follow.
As fascinating as it is to watch two actors move through a series of sexual encounters and changing every other scene into someone different, there are holes in Hare’s adaptation. The source material clearly addresses the increasingly sexualized world in which Schnitzler was working The Blue Room, however, fails to make that connection. What Hare never shares with the audience is the “why” of the adaptation. The challenge of the The Blue Room is to create an “idea play” for the audience, one that does not hit them over the head with the story, but one in which continues to stay with the audience over the years as they recognize moments in their own lives similar to the lives within the play.
The Blue Room is an interesting play, but presents challenges to the creative team in addressing some of its inherent flaws. Find the “why” and you will discover the play.