Yes yes yes

And gad I loved how VALJEAN of all characters was shown in–almost the way the people around him saw him, at first? They did a great job of creating the sense of the Other that people are putting on him, of that little society making him a Dangerous Man. And so much of that was the acting, of course, but it was also EVERYONE’S acting, the way the people he meets at first seem really scared, really angry to see him!

Yes! DTC’s Valjean was amazing – he had agency, he had his bitter resentment, and he has his own identity. His outward character in the first act was essentially, “Society decided I was dangerous? Well, I’ll be fucking lethal.”

And he is. He’s viewed as a danger to the peace, so he embraces it. In the brick, Valjean learns to read so that he can continue his great plan for revenge. (And then he ends up using this ability not for revenge, but to teach Cosette the alphabet. There’s meta rant about how love is the strongest force of opposition against systematic oppression, but that’s for another time.)

He’s brown, he’s Muslim, he’s a victim of police brutality and unfair imprisonment. And the way he stays sane is to harbour that resentment against the system/world that “always hated” him. That’s one of the reasons his soliloquy is so powerful – he begins to question the emotions that have led him this far.

In some ways I think DTC’s production was more accurate to the original intention of the story than the other productions of the musical. The time period may have been on the opposite side of a two-century chasm, but the story – oh, the story.

Books like this cannot be useless.

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