theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
The French have always believed that a little sexual shenanigans outside marriage is a Frenchman’s right. Georges Feydeau made exquisite use of this accepted double standard in his farces one of which, Where There’s a Will — originally Le Systême Ribadier — is currently on tour prior to the West End. There is a delicacy and charm about a Feydeau farce no matter how frenetic the action becomes, and nothing is more enticing or amusing than a lustful monsieur coming up against the strictures of respectability, honour and dignity, not to mention the suspicions of a wife.
It is Paris, 1890. Angèle, a widow, is married to Monsieur Ribadier. She is convinced that all men are liars and cheats since discovering, courtesy of the little black book found among her late husband’s effects, just how many affairs he enjoyed. Can she trust Ribadier? Of course not! He is having an affair with Madame Savinet, the wine dealer’s wife. When Thommereux, an old friend of both the husbands who is passionate about Angèle, turns up unannounced after some years, Ribadier’s systême for keeping his wife in the dark is in danger of collapse, and the plot unfolds at an increasingly fevered pitch.
‘Every Feydeau character is sooner or later in a terrible crisis, and the only way out is a fever of words,’ writes Peter Hall in the programme notes. Yet his production of Where There’s a Will fails to reach this level of uproar, in spite of a very funny Ribadier from Nicholas Le Prevost.
The actor plays the first scene at such a pitch that I did wonder just how fevered he could become. There was no need to worry — the bluff and bluster of Le Prevost’s elegant, arrogant and charming Ribadier, executed with impeccable precision, is a delight throughout.
David Warner, always magnetic, always interesting, and back on the British stage for the second time in eighteen months after a 30 year absence caused by stage fright, seems to have been directed to play Thommereux as if he were Chebutykin in Three Sisters. While Warner’s shambling roué of a man is charming and funny, as well as difficult to keep one’s eyes off, the overall effect helps to create less a farce than a gentle comedy of despair.
Elaine Paige as Angèle is occasionally stymied by the contrasting rhythms of her two leading men. She provokes laughter and gains our sympathy as the wife who uses her feminine wiles to flush out her cheat of a husband and bat away the attentions of Thommereux but there is something missing; it is as if she is itching to fly but unable to get high enough off the ground to engage fully with her character.
Amanda Shillabeer gives a spirited performance as the maidservant, Sophie, while David Bamber is quietly engaging as the very particular, very proper, rather gauche, cuckolded wine dealer, Savinet.
Each performance has much to recommend it and together the actors offer us a gently entertaining evening. And there’s the rub for it lacks that sustained sense of increasing panic as crisis succeeds crisis that is the essence of farce, leaving one vaguely unsatisfied.
Sarah Vernon © 2003
Originally published on R&V 25-05-03
Textile Artist and Teacher
Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever
pulseless electrical activity.
mistermuse, half-poet and half-wit
Poetry, Facts, Fiction, Inspired by Travel, Art, Science, Nature & Philosophy
Historian * Author * Presenter * Speaker * Guide
Not so much Rage Against the Machine as Slightly Peeved the Taps Won't Work
Bringing back the forgotten
BIDDING HAS NOW CLOSED.
Writing about writing; words about the world
Writing about current events from a historical perspective.
I LEAVE YOUR ROAD TO WALK ON MY GRASS.
The Casual Past
Words and images from the past
The adventures of Janice Duke and her Magical Travelling Paint Box
Creator and Author of The Adventures of Eric Seagull 'Storyteller' series
A repository for movies from the silent era
Art as a Sensory
Musings, Memories and Miscellanea
Daily summary of the life/movie world.
Author site of S. Jackson & A. Raymond
History, technology, books and baseball.
THE ENLIGHTENED ART MAGAZINE
Memoir, poetry, & writing theory
faces gourmet world of fashion, design and art
Lifestyle magazine and Readers Digest
Suffering ink-stained fingers and occasional staple wounds to bring you wonderful images of vintage toy ads and other retro paperworks
Never get lost in the Sauce
Theatre, Film and TV.
Compelling Stories of Russian History
Photography Blog by Chris Egon Searle
Reclaiming my inner badass at 50
"Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me a truth, and I'll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." - Steve Sabol, NFL Films
The Nazis assigned him a number but I wanted the world to know his name.
Archaeology News, Interesting Facts and More
Being a web log for the observations of actor, author, cartoonist, comedian, critic, director, humorist, journalist, master of ceremonies, performance artist, playwright, producer, publicist, public speaker, songwriter, and variety booker Trav S.D.
LOIS BRYAN Photography and Digital Art
A Green future for the Isle of Wight
a world travel photo blog by Jackie Hadel
Music means something