Trelawny of the Wells*** (Donmar Warehouse, 8 March 2013)

Posted: March 9, 2013 in Theatre

There are times when an evening at the theatre needs to be about nothing more than sheer enjoyment. Subleties and subtexts have their place, but so do the simpler pleasures of gentle humour and nostalgia. Arthur Wing Pinero’s 1898 play, here revised by Patrick Marber and directed by Joe Wright, is an unashamed love letter to the world of theatre and the people who inhabit it. The stage is littered with Victorian theatrical props, bathed in soft, warm lighting and a company of the finest character actors all contribute comic turns to further illuminate the subject that must be closest to their hearts. Ron Cook deserves special mention for playing both a theatrical landlady and a pompous knight, once in the same scene, and another veteran, Maggie Steed, is a delight in her two roles. The play is no masterpiece and sometimes the pace of the production is too slow, but detailed analysis would be pointless. At the end, one of the characters looks in awe at what is unfolding on stage and says “it’s almost like real life”; another replies with the play’s final line “no, it’s better”. The perfect summation!

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