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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 6 April 10, 1975




Marat/Sade is set in an asylum. This is intended to be 'shocking' to the audience, to produce a feeling of 'distancing' so that the historical actions taken out of context can have a universal application. This however, did not happen to me. I felt that by placing the play in an asylum two things were achieved. The first was the degrading nature of the madness deplicted (and demanded by the script). It was only the physical forms of lunacy that were shown, not the unhappy mental [unclear: c] that caused them. This, of course, gave the actors a chance to play the parts of madmen in an undefined, superficial and hysterical manner The second thing that this achieved was to Ironically' observe that the major force in any historical event, the people, having their actions and their leaders aligned to madness. In fact this situation degraded the working people by making it possible for them to be confused or replaced by lunatics.

It is claimed by Weiss's translator Peter Brook to be "Marxist". If this is the case then why is the only sane person on the stage the Marquis de Sade? Why does he direct the play, and why eventually is he placed in the position of superiority despising those around him?

The Marquis de Sade was certainly an aspiring individual both impatient and afraid of the society which confined him. But he was only that. He never appreciated struggles other than his own, and for all his imagination had no concept of what it was to belong to a struggling class with aims and ideal other than his.

For me at any rate the play fails, it is certainly not marxist, nor revolutionary. Weiss attempts to say too much in a very complex form and the question arises "for whom is the play written?"

The direction is also to blaim for the reactionary nature of the play. From my reading of it Marat could have been shown to be much stronger, to have been at times victorious over Sade. Paranoics do not have to be morose, and that is all Marat was in Downstage's production.

Both the singers and the singing were excellent bringing vitality and interest into the [unclear: lat]. But the direction concerning them was again heavy-handed and gross they showed only one feeling and that was a loud, good humoured, ignorant vulgarity.

That may be how Dickens and Mervyn Thomson see [unclear: th] working class, but it's not my idea.