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Two BA (Hons) Acting students standing in the centre of a stage under a spotlight, holding hands. One is wearing a bridal veil. Other performers are standing in partial darkness around the edges of the stage.

Adultery and revenge in 1940s Paris: AUB Productions presents Thérèse

Photos by Bill Bradshaw


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AUB Productions’ 2023/24 season continued with a reinvention of Émile Zola’s classic novel Thérèse Raquin.

Under the abbreviated title of Thérèse, Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) students bring to the stage a tale of adultery, murder and revenge in post-war Paris.

Originally set in the 1840s, this adaptation, written and directed by Fiona Ross, has been shifted up 100 years to 1947, and relocated to a Parisian underworld where the drowned hold court.

The play follows the affair of Thérèse and her lover Laurent, their conspiracy to murder her husband Camille, and the unexpected consequences of their schemes.

“The show is a really interesting exploration of human nature and how desire drives us,” explains Isaac Redgrave, who plays Laurent in the show. “It utilises primal theory of how urges can control us.”

“Fiona's direction has given the story many new angles and intensified the experience of playing Laurent. Now that I see him in a larger scope, I’m able to reflect on the story both as him and as myself.

“It's interesting having a piece with no good protagonists. No one is good here. It brings up a lot of interesting ethical questions, like how we as a species look at punishment versus reformation. These people are tortured infinitely but they’ll never be able to not do it. In the ‘40s, you couldn't get divorced in France unless you had an affair, so Thérèse couldn’t have left Camille. He had to die.”

The adaptation also features characters not in Zola’s original novel. One such character is Offerle, portrayed by Zara Kasiningsih.

“I had to approach my character with an open mind and to be open towards criticism if my choices did not match the director’s vision,” Zara explains. “This made it slightly difficult to justify my actions at first, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey making the choices for my character.

“It's been a very strenuous rehearsal process since it's a physically demanding piece. Despite this, I’ve enjoyed the creative freedom of character development and physical expression.”

“Intimacy and fight training have both been fun and challenging, mentally and physically,” adds Isaac. “Also staying on stage for an hour and a half – I have to give myself tasks to do. It's weird and exhausting but a lovely challenge.”

Following graduation, Isaac plans to audition for work, while also exploring his own self-written projects. Zara, after a “much-needed break”, also plans to continue pursuing theatre, but alongside a potential teaching career.

As with other AUB Productions shows, Thérèse is the result of collaboration between several courses at AUB, including the BA (Hons) Acting, Costume, Make-up for Media and Performance and Performance Design and Film Costume disciplines.

AUB Productions’ Thérèse ran from 16–18 November 2023.

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