Talented Mr Ripley
By Tanya Coutts
For a long play, at almost three hours including the interval, this production did a very good job to keep my attention. The Talented Mr Ripley by Phyllis Nagy was a wonderful adaptation of the original novel by Patricia Highman about the fortunes and misfortunes of the amoral and ruthless Tom Ripley.
Many are probably familiar with the 1999 film, starring Matt Daemon and Jude Law; however the theatrical version is a huge contrast to this without moving away from the plot. The play is set in the 1950s where Tom Ripley goes to Italy to bring back the Greenleaf’s son to New York for them but uses the opportunity to make some extra cash instead.
The nine actors assumed the identity of all the characters, with some taking on several roles for the production. These characters were out of the ordinary with Richard Greenleaf returning after his death to haunt Tom Ripley and to help him to assume his identity. There was a lovely scene later in the play where the deceased Greenleaf helped Tom to forge his signature on a mirror with lipstick.
The theme of homosexuality was prevalent in the performance, a huge contrast to the film version in which it was non-existent. If this theme went unnoticed by some then the passionate scene with Ripley and imagining Greenleaf’s death rather differently and ending with the men kissing would have made it obvious.
At times Tom Ripley changed costumes on stage and was acting between two scenes, the other characters were unaware of this happening, but it kept the play moving fluently. They were told by the adjudicator that although they had minimal props they were to use less specific ones and not to save furniture for later scenes.
In this surreal adaptation the team worked well with lights and sounds to depict the imagery of water that runs throughout the play and to represent the mood of each scene, using red for violence and a violent tone for the surreal scenes where Greenleaf is a ghost.
Unfortunately the audience wasn’t filled to bursting point, with only 25 attending to watch the production. This must have made it somewhat difficult for the actors to perform but regardless of this they did a remarkable job.