Unhinged But Unimposing: The Talented Mr Ripley At Wilton's Music Hall
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Mark Leipacher directs a revival of his 2015 adaptation of the first of Patricia Highsmith’s series of psychological thrillers about the enigmatic con-artist, Tom Ripley. The original production received largely positive reviews, though this incarnation seems to have lost its sheen.
Though it may prove an intriguing stage adaptation for fans of the books or film, this production fails to conjure the Amalfi Coast or palazzi of Rome and Venice in the crumbling grandeur of Wilton’s Music Hall.
The issue lies not so much with Leipacher’s script but with his direction, and in Christopher Hughes’s characterisation of the murderous Ripley. Indeed, Leipacher deserves praise for condensing Highsmith’s labyrinthine plot into a two-and-a-half-hour play. The script relishes in a duality of action and narration, switching between Ripley’s interactions with other characters and his own interior monologue addressed conspiratorially towards the audience, allowing for some clever and evocative ensemble tableaux.
Hughes’ Ripley, however, lacks subtlety and is all of one pitch: fevered. Rather than a slow and increasingly desperate slide into psychopathy and murderous obsession, his portrayal is manic from the outset; wide-eyed and gesticulating. He therefore leaves himself with nowhere to go from there — this Ripley is convincingly mad, but it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking him talented.
The Talented Mr Ripley, Wilton’s Music Hall, Grace’s Alley, E1 8JB. Tickets £10-£18, 23-25 May 2019.
Last Updated 24 May 2019