de Sade

Norwich Arts Centre

> Norwich Arts Centre

I was reading recently that the Hell Fire Club used to meet at the Bell Inn - so de Sade's philosophy is hardly new for Norfolk.

Still, it's interesting to see the man himself put on trial in a new play by Joanna Swan, performed by Crude Apache.

Nothing, she contends, was really so very bad about this infamous homme infernal - no worse, anyway, than any other aristo of the period.

Most of the things he writes about which make us all squirm, like eating people, never really happened in real life, where he was bullied by his mother-in-law, loved by his wife (and her sister) and slandered by his overpaid prostitutes, like any other self-respecting upper class Frenchman of the period.

The movement, by Kathy Floyd, slid in and out of skittish Gallic music with the same surprising ease that characterized the film Moulin Rouge, and the costumes and makeup by Amanda Harrold and Jude Wright gave the show a Lautrec air, with big skirts flashing back to reveal . . . stripy tights.

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Pete Daniel as the Marquis had impressive charisma and just the right degree of roguishness and the show as a whole displayed a louche disregard for the usual dramatic formalities, which kept the story romping along.

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