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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Blakeley’

This is the London premiere of an 84-year-old J B Priestly play, with his trademark wittiness and his usual foray into left-wing politics and morals – not the best of either, but certainly worthy of revival in this excellent production by Hugh Ross.

It’s set in the home of Lord Kettlewell, separated from his wife and by default his Oxford University daughter Pamela, trying to extricate himself from a relationship with Hilda Lancicourt. His daughter, now a communist, turns up straight from a period in the USSR, with new friend Comrade Staggles in tow. She turns out to be rather manipulative, much to the delight of lounge lizard family friend Chuffy who watches on gleefully. Before the play is through she’s fended off two men, bagged a third, despatched Hilda and reunited her parents. Lady Knightsbridge is an additional character who doesn’t really serve any purpose but is thoroughly entertaining, and of course there’s a butler and a maid who Comrade Staggles can encourage to rebel.

It’s actually quite densely plotted, though it’s a light and frothy concoction. That said, it made for a pleasant evening and a rewarding one if you ‘collect’ Priestly as I do (three still to see). Polly Sullivan’s design, incorporating the theatre back wall, is very clever and her period costumes are excellent. I thought Steven Blakeley was terrific as the earnest Staggles, and Bessie Carter’s professional stage debut as Pamela was hugely impressive. In an altogether fine cast, Richenda Carey’s cameo as Lady Knightsbridge shone through. 

It’s astonishing that it’s never had a proper revival or a London run. It’s not a great play, but it’s an interesting period piece by an important 20th Century British playwright and this production fully justifies the decision to let us see it at last.

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