(seen at the afternoon performance on 12th May 2018). This looks
pretty sensational. Anna Fleischle gives us a simple but effective set of period
houses against a brown panelled back (shame she didn't consider sightlines with
the candelabra, though), and the costumes (presumably hired as no credit is
given for design) are superb.
Sadly, the monkey knew it was in trouble when it had to Google the plot to
remind itself, before writing this opinion. The crisp lines fly and the cast are
uniformly excellent - Fisayo Akinade (Witwould), Justine Mitchell (Millamant),
Jenny Jules (Mrs Marwood) and Haydn Gwynne (Lady Wishfort) in particular.
Director James Macdonald keeps the pace fairly measured, speeding up for the
comedy (Ms Gwynne) but rather extending things near the end with a long and
traditional but - please, 3 hours, let us go - rather superfluous dance before
Thing is, without the "pre-story," not even alluded to in the programme, it's
pretty hard to fathom what was going on, and by the second half even harder to
really care that much. Having the cast declaiming merrily (with the odd diction
issue - nameless to protect the person who was battling an accent anyway) isn't
enough to get the story over if the story isn't in the text anyway. Perhaps
playing the opening scenes with a greater gravity may help - clues were easily
overlooked - and a little more concentration on blocking of a play better suited
to a proscenium presentation are in order.
This is a classic that looks great but requires more study than even
Shakespeare for many theatregoers (the monkey included) to extract the most