Film now available for Arseholes: a New Play

Film now available for Arseholes: a New Play About Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine

In June 2017 a team of Oxford University undergraduate students, graduate students, and lecturers joined forces to perform Arseholes, an original new play about the poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud’s two-year relationship. (See our coverage of the production here.)

Audiences were particularly struck by the actors' convincing performances, particularly in the play’s intimate scenes, and also the gripping nature of the sequence of events. Many commented on enjoying the way in which the poetry of Rimbaud, Verlaine and their entourage was seamlessly woven into the play through new translations, reporting as they left that they were off to read some Verlaine and Rimbaud -- in some cases for the first time.

One reviewer, Yulia Savikovskaya, described the lead actors’ performance as follows: ‘Archie Foster has an astounding integrity to his performance and you never glimpse his own student self beyond his so well-acted Rimbaud, as if they were tightly linked together. He is brave in his rudeness and vulgarity, he is self-confident in his alluring sexuality, but never goes beyond the border of vulgarity, always treading fine grounds of romantic and rebellious love between the two men accurately and masterfully. He also can be both persistent, loving and tender in the most intimate scenes of the play which are acted exquisitely by both actors. While Foster excels in being true to Rimbaud’s rebelliousness, freedom and sexual allure, a lanky Inigo Howe makes a more complicated and nuanced character out of his Paul Verlaine. Howe’s physical built and age does not resemble that of real Verlaine in the slightest, so the viewer ends up visualizing a new – young, romantic, driven by guilt and passion, Paul Verlaine. Howe has a wider range of emotions to portray than Foster, and this variety of changes, as well as his temperament in intimate scenes with his lover (especially the final scene) is really impressive.’

Those of you feeling disappointed that you missed this memorable production however need no longer fret: a film of the final performance is now available on YouTube thanks to the generous support of the Medieval & Modern Languages Faculty. The cast and production team hope you will take as much pleasure watching it as they did in ‘bringing these arseholes to life’.

Subscribe to Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages