Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Where there’s a Will - Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford

Where There's A Will by Georges Feydeau
translator: Nicki Frei

Director: Peter Hall
Reviewer: David Griffiths

A French farce might not be to everyone’s taste but like the reviewer, take the play at face value and you will have an evening of gentle humour that simply flies by.

Rachel Tackley, Director of the English Touring Theatre admits that “Where there’s a Will” written by the renowned playwright Georges Feydeau is something of a departure for the company. Ho
wever on this evidence it is a route worthy of further exploration.

There was an assuredness about the production (not at all surprising when you learn the director is the great Peter Hall) which started with the attractive set and was reinforced by all members of the small cast.

Special mention must be made of the adaptation by Nicki Frei. The cast benefited greatly from her expert translation and subtle (sometimes) innuendos.

Infidelity is hardly new ground for farces but although somewhat predictable in content and outcome this didn’t diminish our enjoyment at all. This must be in no small measure down to the considerable talents on show. Nelly Harker and Jason Thorpe as the archetypal maid and butler were an amusing side show to the main event dominated by Sara Stewart as the recently widowed and remarried Angele and Charles Edwards as the new husband.

However I found myself looking repeatedly at the clever characterisation by the excellent Tony Gardner as the returning love interest. I’m sure he would have been a fine doctor (he qualified in 1987 and would have had an unrivalled bedside manner!) However we should be grateful that he chose the acting profession as he clearly has a talent for comedic characterisation. I found myself more than once making comparisons with Alexander Armstrong from Armstrong and Miller (the one from the Pims ad) and wasn’t surprised to see his credits included one of their productions.

Any form of synopsis would frankly give too much away, so don’t go if you want to be suprised. This however would mean you miss out on a fine production and an excellent example of its class. Enjoy the cast, listen out for the clever one liner's and above all laugh at Tony Gardner’s tour de force as Thommereux.

Where There's A Will runs at the Yvonne Arnaud until Sat 7th March 2009
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