Campbell is quite the virtuoso performer. He handles the language fluidly with a sense of beauty in the verse that is not common in contemporary performance. With each passing glimpse of Maud, the object of his affections (or obsession), he takes us through a different gamut of emotions. While not quite “a man of a thousand faces”, his appearance changes as he projects notably different looks over the course of the performance. This is enhanced by his lighting designer. The lighting is quite exceptional for a small Hollywood venue. There was a real bond between performer and the light in which he is revealed. The computer graphics (projections) were well executed and fit in effortlessly with the cadence of the poetry. Likewise, the production values of the furnishings, props and costumes show a genuine sense of Victorian taste.
While I recognize the literary phrase “Come into the garden Maud”, I have the feeling that in senior English class it was presented in the context of “we had to read this thing in its entirety, but we’re not going to do that to you”. Consequently, I could have used some program notes on the poem and a short refresher on Tennyson as I truly enoyed seeing this poem brought to life.
This adaptation of Tennyson’s poem seems authentic in its intent to take us back to mid-Victorian England. Being Victorian, its cadence starts slowly and builds throughout the piece. After a few sequences we are taken in by what might be called the presentness of the past—eternal truths that transcend time and place. The adaptation and performance show a true understanding and appreciation of the vicissitudes of the lovelorn Victorian heart. But as we watch the piece we come to realize that this passionate 19th century young man, wallowing in the excess of lush Victorian verse, is not too different from today’s young man who spends endless hours on the internet searching for his passions. To both, “desires” are illusive and unfulfilled.