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Posts Tagged ‘Lottie Smith’

Wow! A 100-year-old feminist play. The Finborough has uncovered another neglected gem. 

Late twenties Georgiana has been in the care of her aunt and uncle, Sir Theodore and Lady Catherine Grayle. Her shy and seemingly reluctant suitor Adam Lankester finally, after a lot of unsubtle hints, gets the courage to propose to her. She is reluctant for different reasons, but she feels obliged to accept, much to the delight of everyone, not least the Grayles, who will reduce their dependents from three to two. Wedding plans are made, but on its eve Georgiana breaks off the engagement, guilty that she’s using Adam, who is by now devoted to her, and unable to reconcile this with her real yearning to be an independent woman.

Cicely Hamilton wrote this at the height of the Suffragette movement. It shows how women of her class were forced to marry, the only way they could guarantee to maintain their lifestyle. Love and attraction were secondary, it was a business transaction. They may have featured in some relationships, but it wasn’t the driving force, and the play shows how this could torture an independent-minded woman. 

Philippa Quinn is simply terrific as Georgiana, a real emotional roller-coaster of a role, on stage virtually the whole time. Jonny McPherson conveys Adam’s initial shyness and repressed emotions, evolving into love, devotion, affection and dejection that breaks your heart. Sarah Berger was covering the role of the intimidating Lady Catherine, in costume but on book, and she was superb, with great presence, commanding the stage and all around her. In a fine supporting cast I feel compelled to single out Joanne Ferguson as Georgiana’s friend and confidante Mrs Macartney.

Katherine Davies Herbst’s period drawing room set and Lottie Smith’s costumes are pitch perfect, and Melissa Davies’ staging is very delicate and nuanced.

A treat that has now departed, but will hopefully resurface, as it deserves to.

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