"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Saturday, July 06, 2013
LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Productions at Brentwood Theatre
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.
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.
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.
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.
setting is necessarily simple – this tour will visit gardens and
barns as well as theatres – the costumes a colourful gallimaufry of
styles and periods.