May 05, 2010

The Little Angel Theatre's Venus and Adonis

Unfortunately there's no video footage available of this, but the RSC hosted a wonderful production of Venus and Adonis some years ago, which I've included some photos of below. It was a puppet production, performed by the Little Angel Theatre, London's premier puppet theatre company.

What was particularly wonderful was the characterisation of the two main characters. Venus was utterly flamboyant, manipulative and sexually aggressive (this puppet show, incidentally, had an age recommendation of 16+). This picture is a great image of Lines 589-94:

"The boar!" quoth she, whereat a sudden pale,
Like lawn being spread upon the blushing rose,
Usurps her cheek; she trembles at his tale,
And on his neck her yoking arms she throw.
She sinketh down, still hanging by his neck,
He on his belly falls, she on her back.

Little Angel Theatre

While the cause of her anguish is real (as real as anything is with Venus), she's also using the opportunity to faint to great advantage. Here, the puppet thrust her breasts into Venus' face and grabbed him forcibly as she fell to the ground, pulling him on top of her. The expressionless face of Adonis, of course, was particularly funny at this moment. It's a useful image and passage to pull out, too, to remind us of the physicality of Shakespeare's depiction of the two: the poetry is incredibly visual and continually evokes the sense of physical space between the two.

This picture gives you a more direct view of the two puppets.

Little Angel Theatre

Note what they've captured in Adonis' expression: that slight petulance, which when he looks away from the goddess reads as proud disdain. He's clearly a boy, but the long hair and smooth skin goes some way towards feminising him (as, indeed, was the case with Leander). Considering what I mentioned in the last seminar about ideas of classical beauty and sculpted images, a puppet is perhaps the best vessel for capturing Adonis: frozen in time and moulded in a fashion too perfectly constructed to be human, the puppet Adonis perfectly evokes, for me, that idea of the boy as object of desire, unchanging and unmoved.

- No comments Not publicly viewable

Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.

May 2010

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Apr |  Today  | Jun
               1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

This blog is a resource for students in Peter Kirwan’s seminar groups for Medieval to Renaissance English Literature.

Search this blog


Most recent comments

  • I forgot to mention in the seminar that I borrowed the dvd last night and found it quite entertainin… by on this entry

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder