By Noel Coward
Directed by Roy Marsden
Venue: Richmond Theatre
Date: Thursday 7th June 2012
Both Steve and I were strongly reminded of a Somerset Maugham play when the curtain rose on this set: the tropical island setting, the sound of the insects and the sense of the heat, although the couple in a sexual clinch on the ground was perhaps a tad unusual. The similarity was enhanced because Jenny Seagrove had been in The Letter, a Maugham play we saw back in 2007. In this current production she played Adele, the widow of a plantation owner on the fictional island of Samolo. She was attracted to Guy Littleton, a married man who’d been spending time on the island for business reasons, and to enjoy her company, but her past experiences have left her reluctant to become involved in such a liaison. His wife Melissa arrived on the island to check up on this possible affair, and her visit coincided with the arrival of one of Adele’s friends, Ellen, a fresh young thing whose own recent marriage was running into trouble. With Guy finding Ellen more amenable than Adele, Melissa had a tough time of it, and her jealousy led them all into danger when she refused to leave Adele’s house until Guy and Ellen returned from a trip up the erupting volcano on which Adele’s house is built.
After the eruption, Ellen’s husband Keith finally turned up, and we learned what a small world it is; Guy and Keith were at school together, with Keith hero-worshipping Guy above and beyond. The relationships eventually resolved themselves, and Adele was finally left to enjoy her solitude and run her plantation.
There were good performances all round and a lovely set, but somewhat ropey effects during the eruption itself which caused some sniggers from the audience. We enjoyed ourselves well enough, and although this isn’t Coward’s best work, it’s still worth reviving from time to time.
© 2012 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me