Stratford Upon Avon
LOVE FOR LOVE: William Congreve
RSC: The Swan
Runs: 3h, one interval, till Monday 11 January 2016
Tkts: 0844 800 1110
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 07 11 15
A missed opportunity of a play that is full of opportunities
Congreve’s play is intriguing. It is densely plotted (as was the fashion) with many pairs of lovers tricking each other and us as they attempt to satisfy carnal and economic desires. Congreve appears to be looking at love in all its manifestations. As the plot moves to its conclusion he plays his masterstroke; he allows us to believe that his female lead (Angelica) is in control of her destiny as she makes the wrong decision for the right reason. In a final twist he shows that she is truly in charge of her fate as maneouvres her true love into a declaration of honest love, foils a self-centres and bullying father, and earns respect for herself and her gender from the sardonic misgenistic Scandal.
It is a shame, then, that director, Selina Cadell does not trust the play. Instead of working with the text from the inside she has created a performance which varies between loud and very loud, and is wrapped around with spurious effects. Her production is superficial and self-conscious; and she has not enabled her acting team to delight in the language they employ. Instead the spend most of the time shouting dead words at each other.
The effect is to push us away from the play, the humour, and the debate.
A sadly missed opportunity as this is a talented acting company. Justine Mitchell (Angelica) is strong without being pushy and notwithstanding her character’s ability to deceive, is ever believable. Tom Turner (Valentine) is totally charming and Jonathan Broadbent (Tattle) cleverly communicates his self-deluding naivete and foolish, foppish innocence.
Carl Prekopp (Jeremy) is particularly noticeable. Congreve has created an extraordinarily interesting role that moves far beyond witty servant; Prekopp mines every ounce of humour and, move than anyone else, communicates directly with us.
Daisy Ashford – Nurse
Jonathan Broadbent – Tattle
Robert Cavanah – Scandal
Jonathan Christie – Servant
Daniel Easton – Ben Legend
Michael Fenton Stevens – Buckram
Hermione Gulliford – Mrs Foresight
Nicholas Le Prevost – Sir Sampson Legend
Justine Mitchell – Angelica
Hywel Morgan – Trapland
Carl Prekopp – Jeremy
Jenny Rainsford – Miss Prue
Elliott Ross – Servant
Michael Thomas – Old Foresight
Anna Tierney – Jenny
Tom Turner – Valentine Legend
Ragevan Vasan – Robin
Zoë Waites – Mrs Frail
Director – Selina Cadell
Set Designer – Tom Piper
Costume Designer – Rosalind Ebbutt
Lighting – Vince Herbert
Music – Eliza Thompson
Sound – Claire Windsor
Commedia Consultant – Didi Hopkins
Choreographer – Stuart Sweeting