Finborough Theatre Autumn-Winter 2018
modest little 1940 comedy by Aimee Stuart could, in the right hands, be a
thoroughly entertaining confection with just enough spice to it to give it
not in the right hands here.
is a Scottish country lass who comes into a small inheritance and decides
to blow it all on the holiday she never had. (If that rings distant bells
in your memory, it is essentially the same plot premise as Cecily
Hamilton's 1908 Diana Of Dobson's, seen at the Orange Tree a decade ago.)
to Vienna with the romantic notion of hearing the Blue Danube Waltz played
at the source, meets a kind English businessman and is swept off her feet
by an impoverished Count who thinks she is a real heiress. You can fill in
the rest of the plot yourself.
clearly wants to be a rom-com, if one with a bemusedly ironic tone. But
Nicolette Kay's production has precious little com to it, and even less
The script has plenty of opportunities for moments of theatrical delight - Jeannie's tentative and then enthusiastic discoveries of modest luxuries, the businessman's growing affection for her, the Count's inevitable and deserved defeat. But they all fall flat.
Kay directs with a ponderousness and heavy hand that would be too much for
a Eugene O'Neill drama, effectively killing every potential laugh and
keeping her talented and hard-working cast from developing any chemistry,
romantic or adversarial, between any of the characters.
Hawthorn (Jeannie), Matthew Mellalieu (businessman) and Patrick Pearson
(Count) – along with a supporting cast who double and triple in small
roles – each work hard to create a character, and each have moments
showing that they know they're supposed to suggest some sort of connection
to one of the others or that a line is supposed to get a laugh that far
too rarely actually comes.
they, and everyone else, have been directed to act in thoroughly different
and clashing styles that make it difficult for them to relate to each
other or even seem to be inhabiting the same reality.
clearly a director's failure is probably more a matter of having no real
affinity for the material than lack of ability, and serves as an object
lesson in how essential it is that play and director be well-matched.
Designer James Helps makes inventive use of a plain table and three chairs in creating a range of settings.
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Review - Jeannie - Finborough Theatre 2018