Saturday, July 06, 2013


DOT Productions at Brentwood Theatre

Oscar Wilde's first big hit – A Play About A Good Woman - cleverly blends comedy and drama in equal measure, with melodrama and satire on social mores into the bargain.
Greg Whitehead, for DOT Productions, has chosen to present it as a sort of rom-com/sitcom/soap, which means that a deal of the style is sacrificed to accessibility.
There is much to enjoy, however, especially the ingenious use of a cappella wordless song as overture and punctuation. The trio at the start of Act III speaks volumes, and the East Enders underscore at the end of that act is another neat touch.
Many of the characters are amusing, or affecting, occasionally both, with some excellent diction. Rebecca Ayres makes a vulnerable, wronged Lady Windermere, "behind the age" despite her tender years – her proposal scene with Samuel Perren's Darlington is touchingly done. A company of six players doubles and trebles with some skill: Perren is also the musical-comedy Aussie Mr Hopper. Joanne Seymour has two major roles, the indiscreet Duchess of Berwick and the mysterious Mrs Erlynn. Martin Prest, as the uncomprehending Windermere, tends to overplay the grimaces and the bluster, but has a strong presence and a clearly-drawn character.
The setting is necessarily simple – this tour will visit gardens and barns as well as theatres – the costumes a colourful gallimaufry of styles and periods.

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