Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Thérèse Raquin 

Heaving-breasted Victorian women, suicides-by-potion, and ghosts: Who says Zola was a naturalist?

Wednesday, Jul 2 2003
Like almost every great novel in 19th-century France, Emile Zola's Thérèse Raquin was a succèss de scandale. It tells the story of a dark-minded young woman, Thérèse, trapped in a stupid bourgeois marriage, who conspires with her lover, Laurent, to kill her annoying husband. They do it by pushing him into the Seine, so it looks like an accident. The resulting events reflect as badly on the French bourgeoisie as they do on Laurent and Thérèse, and one outraged critic called the novel "a quagmire of slime and blood." It sold like hot cakes. Tom Ross directs a brilliant revival of Zola's own adaptation at the Aurora Theatre. The talented Stephanie Gularte plays a beautiful, haunted Thérèse; Mark Elliot Wilson is a potent (though sometimes stilted) Laurent; and Joy Carlin is masterful as Mme. Raquin, the mother of the murder victim, who learns the truth and immediately suffers a heart attack. Jonathan Rhys Williams as the annoying husband and Stephen Pawley as an equally fussy older man provide fine comic relief. The only mystery about this show is how the invented plot ever gave Zola his reputation for naturalism. Somehow, he led the movement away from melodrama and romanticism into the more clinical 20th century with this psychological thriller of heaving-breasted Victorian women, suicides-by-potion, and even a ghost in the hall.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"