Just to Get Married, London, 4****

by Cicely Hamilton,
4Stars ****

The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 19 August 2017.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 10 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 27 July.

Fine revival of a forgotten play which still hits home
Given the topicality of gender equality this revival of a play last stage in 1918 by the failed actress, Suffragette playwright and journalist Cicely Hamilton could not be more timely. The last London production was in 1910. Hamilton is not totally forgotten – other plays have been revived this century at the Finborough and the Orange Tree. But this one certainly has been overlooked and the revival directed by Melissa Dunne has two terrific performances from Philippa Quinn as Georgina Vicary, 29 years old and in need of a husband, and Jonny McPherson as Adam Lankester, a man in need of a wife who is firmly in her sights and those of her dragon aunt, Lady Catherine Grayle with whom she lives. This was a time when marriage was the only career most women could look forward to, and Georgie is desperate. She is on the verge of spinsterhood. Hamilton stages the arguments skilfully, Georgie, while intelligent and every bit the match for any of the men in her life, also knows that to survive she must marry and resents it. The trouble is, as she realises, she has been trained to do nothing other than be a wife – given the chance to escape to London to share a flat with an artist girlfriend – a nice performance from Tania Amsel – she falls at the last fence. Life eating sausages cooked on a gas ring is not for her, and she has no idea what work she could do. This idea of independence is ridiculous, she says. We are brought up to be married.

The statuesque Quinn creates a splendidly torn and tormented woman, while McPherson – “You blessed little soul, what a lucky man I am” – makes the initially shy, tongue tied Adam both a catch and a trap, a man who cannot conceive that a woman could aspire to a career but well meaning and by his lights in love. He will look after his little woman, of that there is no doubt.

He has been abroad, now wants to settle down, is wealthy, kind and has no idea that a woman could by anything other than a wife who would look after him, his household and bear his children. Lady Catherine has invited him to stay so that he can be snared and the play shows the halting progress of Georgie’s attempts to get him to put he question.
Hamilton is no Ibsen, no Shaw, the first act seems to be getting nowhere, although things do speed up in the second half, but she is on the evidence of the play someone with something to say and says it to great effect. In one of her other plays, Marriage as a Trade, written the year before she argues that women were brought up to look for success only in the marriage market.

Frances Melliship: Tania Amsel.
Mrs Macartney: Joanne Ferguson.
Georgina Vicary: Philippa Quinn.
Berta Grayle: Lauren Fitzpatrick.
Tod Grayle: Joshua Riley.
Lady Catherine Grayle: Nicola Blackman.
Sir Theodore Grayle: Simon Rhodes.
Adam Lankester: Jonny McPherson.
Footman/Dobbins: Stuart Nunn.

Director: Melissa Dunne.
Set Designer: Katherine Davies Herbst.
Lighting Designer: Robbie Butler.
Costume Designer: Lottie Smith.
Sound Designer: Jon McLeod.

2017-07-30 11:57:47

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