Despite extremely promising material, Giulietta manages to ultimately be prosaic and, frankly, a bit boring.
It is extremely hard to believe that such an intimate and revealing conversation would take place between an elderly Duchess and her young, distant, male relation
The show tells the story of Beethoven's brief love affair with his student, Countess Giulietta, the woman to whom he dedicated the Moonlight Sonata, and also covers the traumatic period in his life in which he first began to lose his hearing.
The show begins years after the love affair. Giulietta, now an old woman, relates the story to her new grandson-in-law. Quite why this device was chosen is unclear. It is extremely hard to believe that such an intimate and revealing conversation would take place between an elderly Duchess and her young, distant, male relation. It is also hard to believe that if such a conversation did take place, it would end up sounding quite so much like a chat show interview. Aside from that, the scene doesn't need to be there at all. It simply serves to relate the story we are about to witness.
When the flashback begins, and the story starts properly, things improve slightly. Euan Kerr gives a competent performance as Beethoven, and his strongest moments come when he gives us a glimpse into Beethoven's agony on discovering his own deafness, and fearing for his passion and his career. There are also a few nice details, such as the repetition of short sections of the Moonlight Sonata, and the fact that the lovers wear clothes that mirror each other, symbolising their intimate relationship with each other.
Despite these moments, however, the play seems to be primarily concerned with squeezing in as many biographical details as it can, with the result that the play ends up feeling like a dramatised sixth form essay on the Countess Giulietta.