Dolores Claiborne is an adaptation by David Joss Buckley from Stephen King’s novel which has the same title. It is directed by Hakan Çimenser and the main roles are acted by Fulya Koçak Yeşilkaya, Tolga Tuncer, Deniz Gökçe Kayhan and Serap Sağlar. It is a production of the public theatre. The performance day is 23rd April. The story is mainly related with a middle-aged woman, Dolores, and her relations with her family and with her employee, Vera Donovan. After being accused of murdering her employee, Dolores begins to tell her story from the beginning and the audience learns about her life by watching the flashbacks. The writer of the novel, Stephen King, is obsessed with thriller and human psychology. That’s why the play can be categorized as a psychological thriller. The director, Hakan Çimenser, has directed twenty-six plays including Dolores Claiborne and Kahvehane which was performed in Bilkent Tiyatrosu. Besides being a director, Çimenser is an actor and a director assistant.
To begin with, the stage design of the play was very creative and unique. The stage was designed as a platform which was mobile. As scenes changed, the stage changed, too. I found this idea very original and appropriate because the scenes changed a lot between the investigation of Dolores and the flashbacks. That’s why I really liked the stage design. The stage was closed before the performance began so there was not a clue related with the themes of the plays. In addition, although it was not exactly similar, the auditorium reminded me the neoclassical French theatre. The stage, the position of the audience and the entrances were nearly the same. After seeing a sketch of this particular kind of theatre, I found these similarities between the auditorium and the sketch.
The play’s mood was generally gloomy and dark because its main themes were about the violence inside the family, incest and murder. That’s why the play had lots of exiting, thrilling and surprising scenes. For instance, the scene which Dolores kills her husband, Joe, was very exciting. To kill her husband, Dolores makes him drunk and he falls in a well. In this particular scene, there was the help of technology. To see Joe’s reaction in the well, there was a video shown to the audience and Dolores was standing in front of it. It was a very effective scene. In addition, this scene was the peak point of excitement because after this scene, the play changed its mood from thriller to Dolores’ feelings about the murder. Apart from this scene, there were two scenes which the audience found shocking, according to the reactions of them. The first one Dolores stands behind her husband with an axe. It was a thrilling scene for me, too. The second scene was Joe suddenly hits Dolores with a piece of wood. At this scene, the audience was shocked, I observed.
Among these thrilling and shocking scenes, the best scenes were the dialogues between Vera Donovan and Dolores Claiborne, in my opinion. Vera Donovan was not a major character but she said the main point of the play. I was really affected when she said: “Sometimes you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive. Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto”. Although Dolores and Vera had totally different characteristics, they were similar to each other in terms of being a mother and it meant a lot to them. That’s why I think their dialogues about the motherhood were the best part of the play. This idea of the motherhood was an outstanding idea because the play showed us how far a mother can go for her child.
In terms of the play’s genre, it was mainly related with realism. Stephen King wrote about a family who had lots of problems such as violence, incest, sexual abuse and alcohol. In this sense, the plot was very realistic because there are lots of families with the same problems. In addition, the way King approached the theme of motherhood was also very realistic. In addition, there was a set between the audience and the performers. However, the exact time of the play was not mentioned in it. In my opinion, its purpose was to state that these problems in the family could be anywhere and anytime in the world. In this sense, the play did not focus only one particular kind of race, country and so on.
In terms of the setting and the technical aspects of the play, I particularly liked the music, the stage design. The music used in the play was very effective, in my opinion. As I stated earlier, the stage was very appropriate and effective. It changed when the scenes changed. However, the sound the stage made during changing was not good at all but the design was so perfect that I almost forgot the noise it made. On the other hand, the lightning, costumes and make up were fine but they were not impressive enough for me. In other words, they were not effective enough to be memorable. In addition, sound effects of the play were unrealistic. I think if a sound effect is not perfect, it should not be used in plays because it makes the play seem unrealistic. Therefore, technical aspects and the setting were not perfect but they were not a disaster.
Overall, Dolores Claiborne was a very good play in terms of its themes, the plot, the performers, the stage design and directing. Especially the stage design was to perfection. On the other hand, the other aspects were just good. In other words, they did not very bad but they could be better. At the end of the play, you may find yourself thinking about the themes of the play like I did.
Kaan Akın (ELIT II)