‘The Undoing’ is a tale of desire & obsession; about the fall of a powerful man whose private weaknesses lead him on a path to his destruction. Our story is set in London at the end of the nineteenth century. In the world of the variety theatre, the magician Victor Montpellier is a star. Talented and widely acclaimed, he has everything he could possibly ask for – apart from the affections of Tamara - the beautiful god-daughter of Sir John Davison, the theatre owner... Victor is used to taking what he wants and the unavailability of Tamara makes her all the more desirable to him. He becomes obsessed, and the more his desires are denied, the more frustrated – and unstable – he becomes. When Victor’s behaviour begins to threaten the livelihood of the theatre, his assistant, Ivan, suggests a drastic course of action. Tamara is deceived into going to Victor’s dressing room, where he declares his feelings for her. But, when she spurns him, his passion turns to anger and he forces himself onto her. She is warned to keep quiet, but Tamara will not, and her public revelation of Victor’s behaviour leads to his downfall & disgrace.
‘The Undoing’ is based on the story of Amnon and Tamar found in 2 Samuel 13. It is a shocking story of desire, manipulation & rape. Amnon is a powerful man who is used to taking what he wants. He sees himself as untouchable and has no thought to the consequences of his actions. Recently, we’ve seen so many stories of celebrities who have seemed so untouchable - above the normal rules – who have taken what they wanted without fear of consequences. The text led me to focus on the idea of a man who has so much power and control over his environment – and yet is, in turn, controlled by the one thing he cannot have. His lust and desire - indeed, obsession - consume to the point where he is blinded to logic and rationality. An obsession that leads to his own downfall. However this is also a story of justice. Tamar is no idle victim. She refuses to keep the crime hidden. In a sense she is able to turn the tables on him. His actions have led to her ruin - but in the same moment she brings about his.