This reading of Racine’s Bajazet translated by Alan Hollinghurst in 1990 for the Ameida was briefly revived for one performance with a cast including James McAvoy, Haley Atwell and Alex Jenning. This play was written immediately after Berenice which is currently playing at the Donmar. As Hollinghurst put it before the reading that Racine responded to the criticism of Berenice of being a tragedy without any death by loading Bajazet with quite a high body count. It is a more dynamic play than Berenice and that showed through even in a reading. The characterisation maybe a bit thin as compared to the detailed confession of inner turmoil in Berenice but intentions were clear from all parties. The love triangle was more sharply defined although it lost the subtlety that was so brilliantly described in Berenice.

This was a great opportunity to compare and contrast the two plays as there is a common theme between the two and having the benefit of a common translator. A reading is always interesting in stripping away the theatrics and call upon the actors’ ability on something less rehearsed and polished. This was very enjoyable and the effort made was fantastic.


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