The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary

The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary was a great set to construct for Splinter. On the face of it the design it appears to be a fairly simple idea, a chalkboard wall & floor that can interact with the actors by use of doorways and move the show along through each act. However, when it came to constructing this piece creating a tight woven mesh of steel framework, sliding doors, hidden portholes & pulley systems all within a tight space had its difficulties. Working closely with the Liverpool Everyman, Splinter were able to come to a solution for all the niggling issues of this construction to create a seemingly simple yet profusely versatile set.

Another key area of the design that Splinter constructed was the large chandelier which doubles up as a crinoline structure for Madame Bovary herself. This was a fantastic design idea which we were able to model in 3D in our office and get one of our welders to assemble the structure. Entirely made of aluminium to keep the weight down the structure has been duly noted in numerous reviews as a “terrific moment” in the show.

“The set, made of blackboards and sliding doors and hidden cupboards, is as versatile as the actors, with chalk taps producing water and a chalk gramophone providing music”

Johanna Roberts, Downstage Centre

“Humour is further aided and abetted by Conor Murphy’s set—a veritable wall of portholes-cum-chalkboard that facilitates the farce in no little way”

David Sedgwick, British Theatre Guide

“There are some terrific moments, including the La Vaubyessard ball, where we see Emma reeling with emotion, trapped within a structure that neatly represents chandelier, crinoline and prison”

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian