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Must we smile or die?

By Elizabeth Kirkwood  

Is it possible, even beneficial, to believe in despair? At the end of Martin Crimp’s version of The Misanthrope, currently running at the Comedy Theatre, the title’s namesake triumphantly declares to his shallow coterie: “I believe in despair”. His bitter valediction to the vapid and duplicitous celebrity “court”, which he is finally able to turn his back on, still remains the most powerful and fascinating sentiment of the play.

Aptly perhaps the most discussed element of this production has been Keira Knightley’s debut…

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