Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes
Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes by Hannah Moscovitch, directed by Eda Holmes, was a provocative rendering of an age old story: a short and intense affair between a college teacher and his young student. What gives it a serious twist is the perspective of this piece. Starting with a long monologue delivered intelligently by Marcel Jeannin, we learn about the birth of his obsession with “The girl in the red coat”. In a clever turn he also makes the audience complicit in his misbehaviour by commenting at every turn, how wrong it is, and how dangerous. The play shows a talented and intelligent man literally seduced before our eyes with an on-going critique of his every action.
The problem is that Inès Defossé the performer portraying the object of his desire, spoke with a difficult to place foreign accent, thus undercutting her responses. She just did not seem believable and was cursed with a strange and distracting cadence.
In a post “#metoo” era, it is daring to broach the subject of older man in a position of authority, and younger vulnerable woman. The script cleverly has the young woman doing a lot of the seduction. This makes her tirade at the end unconvincing. However, one must admit that with a somewhat more compelling performance the play would have been satisfying.
The dark minimalist set did little to improve the show, and when the young woman complains of being in a seedy hotel, one is given pause, because it looks just like all the other locations: cold and impersonal. The lighting of the show design was really imaginative. Its originality was notable throughout the piece, the only really wonderful thing besides Jeannine’s performance.
Hannah Moscovitch is an acclaimed and much-awarded playwright and she delivers a skilfully wrought piece. However the production had some glitches which detracted from the clever writing. In a two-hander, each of the actors must be superb, and Marcel Jeannine was. The problem was that his stellar performance was skewed and imbalanced by a less-than-wonderful partner in crime.
Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes is at the Centaur Theatre (453 Saint François-Xavier) from November 8 – 27, 2022. Tickets and showtimes HERE.