8 Women is a French comedy thriller, the titular females all being suspects in a murder at a snowed-in country house at Christmas. There's a couple of insurmountable problems in this production of Robert Thomas' play, and one is Donald Sturrock's pedestrian translation which hardly flows from the actresses' mouths. The other is the bizarre set design by Anna Bliss Scully, which puts three doors at the back of the seating, meaning a couple of important scenes happen where the audience can't see or sometimes hear them. Needing this space at the back also means there's less room for the stage which, the room having been configured widthways, means there's a long, narrow strip of performance area. I suppose it's some kind of achievement to get bad sightlines in a theatre as small-yet-flexible as Southwark Playhouse. Elgiva Field's production aims for the heightened feel that I would imagine the film version to have (though I haven't seen it.) This kind of thing can be risky - done well it can make for ridiculous fun but here it goes the other way into ham. I guess the performances might settle down a bit (one way or the other this is early in the run and the actresses frequently seemed unsure of their cues.) One thing I did love was the story's blacker-than-black punchline, although everyone sitting near me seemed outraged by it.
8 Women by Robert Thomas, translated by Donald Sturrock is booking until the 9th of April at Southwark Playhouse.