Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • WHERE THERE’S A WILL • Richmond Theatre [tour] • 2003

Elaine Paige at BBC Radio 2's Voice of Musical Theatre gala final in 2006. [Wikipedia]

Elaine Paige at BBC Radio 2’s Voice of Musical Theatre gala final in 2006. [Wikipedia]

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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Movies From The Silent Era

A repository for movies from the silent era

Art Universal

Art as a Sensory

Henry Brooke

Musings, Memories and Miscellanea

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

Daily summary of the life/movie world.

When Angels Fly

Author site of S. Jackson & A. Raymond

off the leash

History, technology, books and baseball.

FLOW ART STATION

THE ENLIGHTENED ART MAGAZINE

Writer Site

Memoir, poetry, & writing theory

hungryfaces

faces gourmet world of fashion, design and art

From guestwriters

Lifestyle magazine and Readers Digest

The Vintage Toy Advertiser

Suffering ink-stained fingers and occasional staple wounds to bring you wonderful images of retro toy ads and pop culture paperworks

Sauce Box

Running my sauce box about my humorous human encounters and probably some other stuff. Enjoy!

scribblesofstageandscreen

Theatre, Film and TV.

Smart History Blog

Compelling Stories of Russian History

Newcastle Photography

Photography Blog by Chris Egon Searle

Brave and Reckless

Reclaiming my inner badass at 50

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

Watercolor paintings

Today in History

"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 Architect & I

The Nazis assigned him a number but I wanted the world to know his name.

Basic Archaeology

Archaeology News, Interesting Facts and More

Travalanche

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.

1stangel.co.uk/loisbryanphotography/

LOIS BRYAN Photography and Digital Art

vixlowthion

A Green future for the Isle of Wight

TOKIDOKI (NOMAD)

a world travel photo blog by Jackie Hadel

swo8

Music means something

literatoluisrodriguez

Literatura y consejos.

Clanmother

A Backward Look Forward

CineMuseFilms

Freelance Film Critic

Christine Parker Art Blog

Sharing my paintings

DukkeHus

The Novel

Susan Brazier Illustrations

Various Illustrations both previous and ongoing.

Wolves in London

Making stuff and pootling in the garden

SophiaRileyKobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Art Bacchant

drunk on the arts

Professional Pin-Cushion in Makeup & Mittens

Loving yourself & Living with Scleroderma!

London Wlogger

Walking blogger exploring London's hidden gems, sights and history!

Winkos: a straw bale building adventure in Poland

A journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle

nz

Online zeitung

The Elegant Mind

"The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it." Diana Vreeland

National Trust Press Office

National Trust news, events and insight

penwithlit

Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History

%d bloggers like this: