It’s been a long time that I didn’t test myself in the exercise of creating a playlist for a theatre character. After briefly talking about the character of Hamlet, let’s take a look at Jack Gurney, heir of the noble lineage of Gurney, a great privileged British family, in the play The Ruling Class (Dieu et mon Droit or Honni soit qui mal y pense in French) of Peter Barnes. Let’s start by detailing the play.

Sometimes, a stupid accident can change a life. In Barnes’ satiric play, while the 13th Count of Gurney is about to get married, he decides to have some time off to drain the stress after a long and hard day of work, he dies, hanged, wearing a tutu and a tricorn. Jack naturally becomes the 14th Count of Gurney, a thing the family dreaded. But why? The answer is simple: Jack is mad. And in contrast with Hamlet, his madness is proven.

Barnes’ character is schizophrenic paranoiac suffering of the God complex. In another term, he thinks he’s Jesus Christ, something slightly problematic for someone from his social class. So, what is to be done? While Jack claims high and proud he’s the God of Love, he marries a woman presented by his uncle, and is then forced to confront a man suffering from the same disease and undergoes a series of electroshock, which ends with Jack affirming “I am Jack!” Everything is back to normal? No.

More paranoiac, sharper, he became darker as well. His arrogant behaviour shows him as apt to govern, to play off his rank, for the others. Only there a thing. Jack is Jack… The Ripper. It a good cynical end… My playlist of 14 tracks follows these events and Jack’s change of personality, and that for a good hour.

The playlist 👇

And if you want to go further than the music, here is some work to devour:

  • The Ruling Class, PB – For the stage production of Jamie Lloyd – Bloomsbury – 2015
  • Honni soit qui mal y pense, PB – French traduction de Claude Roy – Gallimard – 1972
  • Dieu et mon droit, PB – film de Peter Medak – 1972

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