Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum Theatre, until Sat 1 Mar. it
All in all this was a good night out for the Morningside Ladies brigade, who got what they came for in their dozens - an old fashioned melodrama. Most of us are familiar with the story of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, with which actor Philip Franks makes his Scottish directorial debut. The innocent bride, the second Mrs De Winter, is brought back by her new husband Max to live in the old house Manderley, where she rapidly finds herself out of place. Here, the past still reigns and she is haunted by the menacing figure of Rebecca, her widowed husband’s first wife.
The trouble is, Rebecca is more than a simple melodrama. A darkly imagined psychological thriller, it takes up the hackneyed conventions of the country house murder and refashions them into something far more powerful. This is why Hitchcock was drawn to it, casting Olivier and Fontaine as the nearly doomed couple in his memorable film. Yet while it might be unfair to draw comparisons between the two media, nothing can hide the fact that the Lyceum's version lacks any of the punch and verve necessary to make an evening of thrilling theatre.
As I sat munching my Cornetto during the interval my eyes fell on the welcome message at the start of the programme: ‘Sit back and let us take you to a time when you could tell a gentleman by his polished manners, a lady by her well cut clothes and you could tell a servant to do almost anything.’ Yet the quickest way to kill a story like Rebecca is to treat it like a period drama. From those magical opening words ’I remember Manderley’ it is about desire and revenge, evil and the power of the past.
The CountryWife: ‘a society in self-gratification is the uppermost goal'
One for the Morningside Ladies: Janette Foggo as
Mrs Danvers and Frances Grey as the second Mrs De Winter in Rebecca
The problems begin immediately with Clifford Williams‘s rather literal adaptation, which fails to generate any real suspense. But then the direction is also wooden. In a thriller it's unusual not to have a change of pace, but here the progress is flat-footed and unimaginative until the end. Unsurprisingly, the actors struggle to inject any real feeling or depth into the play, lapsing into the parodic. None of which seemed to register with the Morningside Ladies behind me. As I got up to leave at the end I couldn't help hearing what they thought. ’Aye, it was simply marvellous,’ said one to the other. Aye, right enough, if you like your Rebecca half- baked. (Marc Lambert)
seduction to the level of a poker game
typically, \.vants top score wrth the rough diamond in the pack, Margery,
rival Pinchwife. town life like a Streetwise Cinderella, tyrannical hubby at his own game,
the arms of her suitor. hv’lCallV'JflllC,
and Violent tryst in which honour falls
double-bluffing it to make her way into
Homer's confidantes compete for the l affections of Piriclwiife’s lippy sister ; Alithea What follows is a passionate :
by the wayside in favour of cunning Guest (firectOr Antony McDonald i
transcends the constraints of the genre as he strips the piece of its
DRAMA The Country Wife
Glasgow: Citizens' Theatre, until Sat 1 Mar. * vk *
It takes a brave man to admit he can't get it up. Or a stupid one. But Homer. the cuckolding protaganist in The Country Wife, IS no lame warrior. Rather, the libidinous lad masquerades as a eunuch in order to have his wicked
62 THE US? 21 Feb-6 Mar 1997
way With the \.‘-.’()lll(’ll, iii Wriliain Wycherley's Cynical Restoration i'ciiiip Set back in the days when folks married for money and sought physical pleasures outside the marital houclriii, The Country Wife depicts a society in which self-gratificatiOn is the uppermost goal, something those who bemoan the collapse of family values should bear in mind. It’s love triangles a-go-go as the blokes vre for each other’s dames, raising the stakes of
Restoration trappings to give things a Yet despite the i
more tip-heat Spin assortment of technical gimmicks,
sartorial uniformity, and a stark, .
almost operatic set, much of the
hedonism and comic potential gets a lost in his stylised treatment, The cast,
led by Henry lan Cusick as Horner, turn in some imaginative performances, but like the y0ung buck at the play's centre, we're left less than satiated (Claire Prentice)
Hornet has the ladies in his lap but,
the country bride of his Jealous former 5 done-in Locked tip from the fun and games of
Glasgow: Citizens' Theatre, until Sat ' lvlar. ***
Classless society be damned' Angst- merchant par excellence Augc st Strindberg recognised way back in 1888 that keeping to your own kiiicl
was never easy Fact is, the grass ha;
always looked greener on the oth er Side of the fence, Finding the first foothold is another thing entirely, though It needs accomplices, alliances. and intimaCy. Once the thrill has gone. you're left in a tighter corner than we .
Twisted bugger that he was, oh 1 August wasn't shy abOut bringing al I
this out in the open, and this bleal;
little three-pointed chamber-pieci?
exposes all the blood, sweat and tear ; t
of both the class war and the sex war before giving tip the ghost and leavm' i the woonds to tester.
Servant boy Jean is a \N’OfklllQ-CIBS‘ .
Oik with ideas above his station, at l
amoral opportunist whose boots werc - made for walking, not Wiping. Hi< mistress (name changed from Julie tc Julia in Robert Davrd MacDonald's nev. translation) is a pie-menstrual, moon- faced posh babe looking for a bit of rough, A mutual dependency of lust and ambition develops, but once they’ve bled each other dry, middle- class morality takes over, and the only way out for milady is the loneliest way of all.
lvlacDoiiald's production of his script is a thoroughly modern affair, With Paul Alheitsoii's Wide-boy Jean coming on like yer classic working-class Tory boy
who hasn’t made good yet With his
eye on the main chance, he's quite prepared to grab the liVing he thinks the world owes him Alliei'tson makes ‘ it Jean's play in this respect for all her airs and graces, Andrea Hart's Julia
never quite gets on top of things, and i
the poi.‘i/er-r')lay is weighted firmly in ' Jean's favour
Feistier is Nada Sharp as Kristin the maid, who knows her place well enough to want to he elsev-rhere, but 3 makes do with suppressing her desires. i By putting her faith in higher things, she proves to he JUSI as moral as her 3 mistress And hell, who;
knows? Maybe we're not that different
after all (Neil Cooper) l
Margery soon learns to play her
‘A thoroughly modern affair‘: Paul Albertson and Andrea Hart in Miss Julia