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Madame Bovary

February 04, 1987 | Watford Palace Theatre
Directed by: Lou Stein | Written by: Edna O'Brien | Literature: Gustave Flaubert | Production Design: Gerard Howland
Charles Bovary (Michael Byrne), a good-hearted but dull and unambitious doctor with a meagre practice, marries Emma (Helen Mirren), a beautiful farm girl raised in a convent. Although she anticipates marriage as a life of adventure, she soon finds that her only excitement derives from the flights of fancy she takes while reading sentimental romantic novels. She grows increasingly bored and unhappy with her middle-class existence, and even the birth of their daughter, Berthe, brings Emma little joy. Adapted by Edna O'Brien.
Cast: Helen Mirren (Emma Bovary), David Horovitch (Homais), Eva Griffith (Félicité), Rupert Farley (Justin), Michael Byrne (Charles), John Tordoff (Lheureux)

Production Notes

Three years after Helen left England for Hollywood, she returned to Watford Palace Theatre for the lead role in Edna O’Brien’s adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary”. “I was totally disenchanted and sickened by the general England I saw reflected through the newspapers, the unbelievable bilge people were being fed. Getting away makes you realise what you love about your country. This is exactly the right way to come back after two years. To be in Watford in the cold and the snow, doing what I really love. It is small theatres like Watford that keep English theatre alive. But for them the West End would be dead.” Among the positive reviews were Time Out, who rote: “Flaubert becomes romantic melodrama in a clever version by Edna O’Brien. Exciting scenes and passionate playing by Helen Mirren”. Michael Ratcliffe wrote in The Observer: “Helen Mirren is reckless, erotic, and tender.”

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