Mark Amerasinghe’s eleventh monodrama
‘Look Back in Love’
, Mark Amerasinghe presents, a monodrama ; an adaptation of his translation of Jean Cocteau’s original script of the black and white French film Orphée (screened in 1950) .
In Cocteau’s modern version ,while the young lovers finally rejoin each other to live in their accustomed world, Orpheus is a celebrated poet, hated by the avant-garde and feminists of the day; and Other World characters, not mentioned in the original legend, are introduced. Chief among these are an agent of Death, the Princess, who loves Orpheus, her chief aid, Heurtebise, in love with Eurydice and a young poet, Cegeste being promoted by the avante garde as challenger to Orpheus.
The sorceress-like Princess, accompanied by her aides, flits in and out of this world through solid mirrors, in pursuit of the handsome Orpheus .
Cocteau gives a distinct 1950’s flavour to this ancient tale by introducing ‘talking’ cars, leather-jacketed assassins on high-speed motorcycles, revolvers and machine guns. Throughout the production, there prevails an overarching manipulation of space-time and an all-pervading atmosphere of mystery and magic – a modern Wonder-land!
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was one of the most unconventional, versatile, controversial (his detractors probably just fell short of his many admirers) and universally acclaimed creative artists of the 20th century. His artistic output was quite astounding.
In addition to the creative activities mentioned, he did a stint as a boxing manager and in WW2 had been an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. Although he was involved in so many fields of creative expression, Cocteau considered himself primarily, a poet. His detractors claimed that he dabbled in so many artistic fields that he was master of none! Leading a Bohemian life style, he was often referred to in artistic circles as the ‘Frivolous Prince’ a title of a work published at the age of 22.
Among his associates and friends were such prominent figures as Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, the poet Guillame Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, Jean Marais ( well known actor and steady collaborator - believed to be his lover), the ballet master Sergei Diaghilev and the famous French singer, Edith Piaf who in 1940 appeared in one of his one-act plays, ‘Le Bel Indifferent.[’ It is believed that the universally acclaimed film ‘Orpheus’ (1950) was produced with the specific intention of featuring Jean Marais as the chief protagonist. Marais also appeared in another of his well-known films, ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Cocteau directed his own films, sometimes playing a role as well. [One of his closest friends was the French poet, Raymond Radiguet with whom (according to some) he was romantically involved, until Radiguet’s sudden death in 1923. Around the time of Radiguet’s death, Cocteau went through a period of opium addiction from which he succeeded in freeing himself. One of his most famous works ‘Les Enfants Terribles’ was written during this period. The experiences he went through during this period and his ‘escape’from the habit are recounted in ‘Opium, Diary of an Addict’. Although many considered him an important exponent of Surrealism, Cocteau himself denied any involvement with the movement.]
In 1963, at the age of 74, this undoubtedly unique, highly controversial, talented creative artist, died of a sudden heart attack, believed to have been brought about on his receiving news of the death of his close friend Edith Piaf.
Among numerous other honours, Jean Cocteau was a member of the Academie Francaise and The Royal Academy of Belgium, Commander of the Legion of Honour, Honorary President of the Cannes Film Festival and President of the