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 The Theatreguide.London Review

The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd
Orange Tree Theatre   Autumn 2014

Paul Miller has chosen to open his tenure as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree with D. H. Lawrence's dark and fatalistic 1914 drama. It's a hard sell at best, and while this revival hints at its merits, it really would need more depth, atmosphere and perhaps star power to fully succeed. 

A woman married to a drunk and abusive miner is driven to wish for his death, especially since she has an admirer eager to take her away from all this. But getting one's wishes can create new bonds of regret and guilt, and while there is now nothing to hold her here, there is real doubt whether she'll be able to bring herself to move on. 

The play deliberately takes its time, both in setting up the situation and considering the changed circumstances at the end, and can feel longer than it is. In particular Lawrence creates a painfully extended final scene whose sense of an eternity stretching out before the widow is essential. But director Miller and his actors are unable to give theatrical life to the sequence, and it just plays like a slow-moving going-nowhere anticlimax. 

I can make no criticism of Ellie Piercy in the title role except one that is not her fault – she does not have the magnetism of a star that might help hold our attention and empathy through the little that actually happens in much of the play. 

Gyuri Sarossy is given little to do but bluster or stagger as the husband, Jordan Mifsud makes the admirer a believably ordinary guy who just happens to be in love, and Polly Hemingway brings reality and depth as the mother-in-law who is more than just the gorgon we expect.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd - Orange Tree Theatre 2014

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