Threedumb Theatre Company brings a unique digital theatre adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris. This is a live-streamed show created during the pandemic, using one-shot filming, which adds to the authentic live feel which is present in this piece. The show feels relevant amongst recent strikes and the general cost-of-living crisis, and it’s refreshing to have a version of theatre you can watch straight from your own home. Dim the lights, grab a stack, sit back, and enjoy. 

Set in 1480’s Paris, the opening scene shows Esmerelda (played by Maria Masonou) covered in blood, seeking sanctuary in the cathedral of Notre Dame. She faces a triangle of conflict with a deeper narrative than imaginable. A ghostly unearthly figure, Stryga (played by Lizzie Burder) confronts Esmerelda about the past events which have led to this current moment. With some elements of the show I feel that the voice of the figure in the abyss was enough, and there was no requirement to show a representation of this character. There were other visual moments that the use of silence and imagination could instead portray better. 

The space used is the best location; given the grandness, natural acoustics, and feel of this location, there is no doubt of the impact this adds. Transitioning smoothly through scenes with the use of projection and colour shifts for different moments depicting flashbacks in black and white makes it easier to tell the timeline and follow directions.

By filming the piece, the audience can witness close-ups and details which may otherwise be missed. They make great use of the interior taking us to completely different spaces throughout, allowing for intimacy in the story. 

Unfortunately, the script wording (adapted by Stuart Crowther) choices seem too simplistic in phrasing. Much of this story lends itself strongly to the visual; words could be less or more powerful with a refined selection. 

The lighting by Eddie Stephens helps set the tone, adding the mood of the classic with the dramatic edge required. Continually, the sound design by Joseph Furey underscores parts beautifully and adds emotion. 

Gary Duncan does a great job of showing the vulnerability and gentle simplicity of Quasimodo. Duncan Riches as the uneasy priest, Frollo, grows in characterisation within the 70-minute production varying from regret to evil desire.

Overall I feel this is a coming-of-age theatrical display combining liveness, accessibility, and an easy-to-follow retelling of a classic. All areas add a level of inclusivity to enjoy impelling new work superbly directed by Stephen Smith. With some edits and a revisit of the necessity of visuals to the story, this piece is a strong leverage for artists to follow in creation which I can only commend. 

You can watch Notre Dame de Paris here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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