Film star Keira Knightley makes her Broadway debut in "Thérèse Raquin," a play based on the 19th century novel by Emile Zola. Time Out New York's David Cote filed the following review.
When a major film star like Keira Knightley makes her Broadway debut, all eyes are on her. So it’s refreshingly perverse that the celebrity plays the title role in "Thérèse Raquin," a mousy girl who blends into the wallpaper. Not to worry: seething with sex and a capacity for violence, Thérèse soon grabs everyone’s attention.
Based on the sensational 1867 crime novel by Emile Zola, Thérèse Raquin is a story of one woman’s tragic rebellion against the stifling constraints of her petit-bourgeois surroundings.
Raised by a kindly but meddlesome aunt, played by Judith Light, Thérèse is married off to her sickly, spoiled cousin Camille, played with rather comical petulance by Gabriel Ebert. When Camille’s childhood friend, Laurent, saunters into their lives, Thérèse finds herself attracted to this handsome rogue, dashingly played by Matt Ryan. A torrid affair ensues – it turns out that for Thérèse, still waters run deep - and since horrid Camille bars the lovers from joy, you can bet that murder is around the corner.
This Roundabout production, vividly staged by Evan Cabnet, contains splendid design elements: glum, oppressive drawing rooms by Beowulf Borit, and expressive lighting by Keith Parham. We shuttle between claustrophobic interiors and bright, disorienting exteriors. Keira Knightley gives an intensely focused and primal performance, dripping with erotic heat and homicidal rage.
Despite its literary pedigree and painterly design, "Thérèse Raquin" is a good old-fashioned melodrama, full of sex, murder and a dash of black humor, not to mention a passionate turn by Knightley. She’s a killer.