Journalist, theatre critic, university lecturer and playwright Patrick Marmion plunders Moliere’s Tartuffe and borrows a smidge from Shakespeare and Euripides for his latest offering, a comedy called Keith? at London’s Arcola Theatre.
All the kings are dead; all the heirs are dead – this is a particularly bloody time in royal history. It all centres around Richard III (Greg Hicks), the Machiavellian hunchback that lets no-one stop him for taking the crown for himself.
As Brecht also observed tellingly at the end of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, 1941, shortly being revived at the Donmar, things come round again. Just when you think humans may have learnt something from history, off we go again.
In the unnamed town that the five characters inhabit, any hope or joy is promptly quashed and left in a pool of despair on the floor, just like the mysteriously dying rats that plague the streets. It’s not a fun evening, but nonetheless makes for a formidable and incredibly disquieting piece of theatre.
There is an appealing simplicity to the narrative of Camus’s 1947 novel: originally set in Oran, in French Algerian, the book tells the story of a devastating infection that starts off slowly but eventually leads to social and economic crisis as the city gates are closed and its people become prisoners.