Sunday, 15 October 2017

'A Woman of No Importance', 11/10/2017: A Review.

On Wednesday 11th October, I went to see 'A Woman of No Importance' at the Vaudeville, performed by Classic Spring, a new theatre company founded by Dominic Dromgoole (former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre) who also directed this production. 




The show is the first in the company's Oscar Wilde season, revolving around his four great Victorian plays which shocked and redefined British theatre, and still resonate and refresh today.

 (Photo: classicspring.co.uk)  

"An earnest young American woman, a louche English lord, and an innocent young chap join a house party of fin de siècle fools and grotesques. Nearby a woman lives, cradling a long buried secret. Wilde’s marriage of glittering wit and Ibsenite drama create a vivid new theatrical voice."
(source: From the Box Office.) 

This production stars Olivier award winner Eve Best (A Moon for the Misbegotten and Hedda Gabler), Eleanor Bron (Help!, Alfie), William Gaunt (King Lear, The Crucible) and BAFTA nominated Anne Reid (Last Tango in Halifax).

'It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one's back that are absolutely and entirely true.'

(oh god, these two were like a Wilde Beatrice and Benedick! Magnificent.)


Having never seen an Oscar Wilde play performed before, I will admit I wasn't sure what to expect. But then, I was hardly surprised when I fell madly in love with the writing as well as the utter beauty onstage. Every actor was word perfect – well, obviously, but I mean they said every word like it properly mattered – and the different types of chemistry between them mingled wickedly or ran completely parallel to each other, in the best way.

The audience atmosphere was especially excellent; we'd all giggle at the witty one-liners and gasp at the scandalous reveals, it was really like we were in a secret club, all in on something massive. 


MRS ALLONBY: It is only fair to tell you beforehand he has got no conversation at all.
LADY STUTFIELD: I adore silent men.
MRS ALLONBY: Oh, Ernest isn't silent. He talks the whole time. But he has got no conversation. What he talks about I don't know. I haven't listened to him for years...


A strange thing happened within me, watching the play at the Vaudeville that evening. I suddenly was hit with a happy, only slightly painful, yearning for drama. Sure, I have a fair bit of drama in my life, blah blah blah...I mean, actual theatre. I've always loved that form of creativity, almost as much as writing, ever since secondary school, when I studied GCSE Drama and would spend 8 weeks of every year rehearsing for the school's infamous Christmas Panto, right up until I chose to do half a Drama degree. These days, with no...outlet, I guess, for that theatrical love, seeing shows these days will stir those old feelings up and make me grin in the dark, in the stalls.


'When a man is old enough to do wrong he should be old enough to do right also.'


I could imagine this theatre company's auditions and rehearsal processes, the arduous line-learning – which amazed me crazy amounts. I mean, Mrs Allonby's speech about a good man?! Bravo, Emma Fielding. And the long, emotive exchanges between Mrs Arbuthnot (Eve Best) and Lord Illingworth (Dominic Rowan)? Actual madness.
But I think most of my favourite line deliveries came from Phoebe Fildes, playing Lady Stutfield. Every one of her lines was said with such immense yet comical sadness; she was wistful and at times bordering on sarcastic, and she got a lot of laughs.


'The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.'


My hot date for the evening, Fiona Longmuir, and I were excitedly discussing all things theatre in the interval; our favourite Shakespeares ('Much Ado', specifically the 2011 David Tennant edition), actors we particularly despise in film and our own ventures into amateur productions. 
We also giggled at a certain audience member, as did the rest of the crowd when they weren't sighing in exasperation, who would hoot, chuckle and exclaim seemingly at random throughout the play. We reckon he was a particularly...keen...Oscar Wilde fan.
-- And after the play Fi found out Eleanor Bron, who played Mrs Caroline, was Ms Minchin from the devastating 1995 film 'A Little Princess'! The freak out was major.


'To win back my youth, there is nothing I wouldn't do - except take exercise, get up early, or be a useful member of the community.'


'A Woman of No Importance' will be running at the Vaudeville until 30th December.
'De Profundis' runs for just over a week from the 3rd January, and then 'Lady Windermere’s Fan' begins on 12th January. There are many more talks and productions yet to come besides those – info can be found on the Classic Spring website and/or on their Twitter page.
Get your tickets now, at From the Box Office!

'Nothing should be out of the reach of hope. Life is a hope.'

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