WINDY CITY TIMES
||My Cousin Rachel
Adapted by: Diana Morgan, from Daphne du Maurier's novel
by Salem Collo-Julin
This article shared 1412 times since Wed Sep 12, 2001
Philip Ashley's guardian and father figure has died under mysterious circumstances. The widow, a woman married to Ashley's guardian for only a short time, visits Ashley at the family estate in Cornwall, England.
She is curious and exotic. Ashley, at first hostile and wary of her intentions, quickly falls for her charms. The rest of the clan grow to dislike the widow, Ashley's "distant cousin" Rachel, and fear that Ashley is losing his sanity.
However, Cornish mores of the late 1800s dictate that these people keep their traps shut. The arguments and misgivings are regulated to fleeting moments between social obligations. Relief is provided by the servants, who, like the audience, have no problem tittering when someone "turns crazy."
It would be easy to treat most of du Maurier's plots as melodramatic potboilers, but with the right consideration, the tension of the English aristocrats seethes from the stage. Hitchcock's film version of du Maurier's novel Rebecca, written a few years earlier than My Cousin Rachel, is an excellent interpretation, with its hushed whispers and slamming doors.
Unfortunately, director Susan Gaspar's version for The Free Associates pushes the drama into the world of made for television weepy mini-series. There is no palatable tension here. The characters change their minds about each other as easily as they drink cocktails after five o'clock. Instead of subtle shadings, the dialogue comes across as just plain loud. Scott Antonucci and Adrienne Smith struggle to make their Philip and Rachel complex, but even du Maurier's worried words cannot hold up this Cornish world. Nineteenth century tension should clog the audience like butter in our arteries: we should feel the pain all the way home. Gaspar's direction gives these characters problems only as complex as the choice between regular and decaffeinated coffee.
This article shared 1412 times since Wed Sep 12, 2001
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