Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Relative Values Review

Relative Values
Theatre Royal, Bath

The year is 1951 and the play opens with a newsreel  of Winston Churchilll during his election campaign, proclaiming that class does not exist anymore. There is a sense of truth in this as the play's focus moves to the Marshwood family. This upper class household is divided over whether Countess Felicity's son, Nigel, should marry Hollywood star, Miranda Frayle. As a consequence the world of the Mashwoods is invaded by film actresses, directors, press reporters and girl guides.

One person who is upset by the marriage is Felicity's maid, Mora Moxton, who reveals that Miranda is her younger sister. Playing Mora is Caroline Quentin, and she wonderfully portrays this distressed servant, concerned that her connection will bring shame to her, her employers and Miranda. The Marshwoods decide that Mora should climb the social ladder by pretending to be Felicity's personal secretary who has come into the possession of a large inheritance. As the play progresses it is both hilarious and sad to watch the poor woman struggling to keep her identity a secret from Miranda.

Less concerned with the marriage is Felicity. Patricia Hodge is an upstanding but aging mother who cares for those close to her, to a fault. Caring and reliant on her servant, she is desperate to keep Mora. Playing her nephew, Peter Ingleton is Steven Pacey. He is jocular to the point that he enjoys the most distressing of moments, but he proves to be a resourceful young man. Making his theatrical debut is impressionist, Rory Bremner. He is such a pleasure to watch spouting some wordy speeches as the egotistically philosophical butler, Crestwell. At the same time he is a shrewd servant, accepting Mora's revelation within seconds without surprise.

Katherine Kinglsey is an alluring Miranda, who puts on an act fir sympathywhen describing how she had an awful childhood in the slums, much to Mora's disgust. Sam Hoare did not really have much to do as a rather underwritten Nigel Marshwood. For most of the play he acts impulsively defensive of Miranda, until he reveals his true character towards the end. During the second act Miranda's previous boyfriend, Don Lucas, appears to confront her engagement and Ben Mansfield shows a man desperate to get back the woman he worships.

The newsreels were a nice addition when establishing Britain in 1951. The massive set of the library in Marshwood house is a classical architectural phenonemon. Trevor Nunn is known for stretching out the running time of his productions, but I enjoyed this farcical plot and could not wait to see what would happen next  amongst all these different characters. What helps is that the cast makes this a fizzing delight, so I would recommend this at a Low Top Price.

No comments:

Post a Comment