Staged by Jean Cocteau, the play performed by the University of Dallas Drama Department had an incredible success thanks to the professionalism of the actors and the creativity in presenting the story itself.
In Cocteau’s film there are many intricate moments which are quite difficult to understand without reading the criticism. However, the student theater so masterfully took out the main ideas the author put into his work, that the staged play was not confusing at all. On the contrary, it provided food for thought and laid out what Cocteau wanted to show in a very accessible form.
The main two questions that the university theater aimed to illustrate were: what is an artist’s obligation to the work that he creates, and what is one’s obligation to the eternal and the afterlife? However, even after watching the production, it is still difficult to answer these two questions immediately.
These posed questions are left unanswered and the viewer is left with the feeling that Cocteau let his art fly like a bird, refusing to control it, letting it fly as it prefers to. Which is very Cocteau-esque, by the way. It is no coincidence that one of the key phrases that sound in Cocteau’s work is, “You are trying too hard to understand, and this is a mistake.” According to critics, in fact, one should not persistently look for causal relationships in “Orphée” — its essence is more related to the area of intuitive sensory perception.
As for how the UD theater showed it in practice — they brilliantly displayed Cocteau’s mysticism, allowing the viewers to feel the mystery of the supernatural and the fear of the unknown, the pain of mental anguish and the joy of relief at the end. The actors are just incredibly talented. The way they acted out their characters, literally living their lives, experiencing their destinies, and bringing out every emotion was incredible. So incredible and talented that the audience really believed that they are exactly who they play.
The scenery made a special impression. As director Kyle Lemieux, associate professor of drama, mentioned, environmental staging allows the audience to experience a more involved role than the passive one, which usually takes place in a traditional theater format. It is also impossible to remain silent about the costumes which were undoubtedly prepared carefully for the performance. They were concisely combined with the images of the characters of the play that they perfectly conveyed the character of each of them as well as the mood of the work as a whole.
It is impossible not to mention that Lynley Glickler, who played the role of Death, got used to her role so well and her costume was so harmonious that she looked exactly like the actress María Casares who performed this role in Cocteau’s film.
In general, the play was a huge success, and everyone who came out after watching was impressed in a good way. And, since the performance has already been released and opening all the cards won’t spoil it for anyone, it’s worth revealing the secret of a little surprise that the theater has prepared for all its spectators after the end of the play — all the guests received a treat, which was a prop in the last scene. It also became an integral part of the wow-effect of the whole production.