by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron based on the book by Ilene Beckerman.

The Mill at Sonning Sonning Eye RG4 6TY To 26 September 2015.
Tue-Sat 8.15pm (dinner 6.30pm) Mat Sat Sun 27 Aug, 3, 10 17 Sep (lunch 12.30pm).
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.

TICKETS: 0118 969 8000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 August.

US clothes show wears well.
Surely matters of fashion can be left to catwalks, while the stage confines costume to an adjunct of human existence. Up to a point, no doubt. But the greatest of last century’s classical actors, Laurence Olivier, recorded finding his way into a part through a false nose. Externals can stimulate, and affect, individuals’ psychology. Konstantin Stanislavski (none more dramatically serious then he) knew that.

Nowhere more than where there’s choice over what to wear – what’s in, what’s out as King Lear and his youngest might have debated if they’d had more time on their hands. Based on stories collected by Ilene Beckmann, this script, as acted in Sarah Berger’s Sonning production, is fluid and cool, powered it might be by the great waterwheel downstairs at the Mill.

Five female actors covering a generation-wide span and all of high quality, swing on and off through the doorways surrounding a central panel which illuminates the social context for these glimpses of American thoughts and lives.

Around the acts loop video shots of celebrity figures – presidents from JFK to Bill Clinton encapsulate the era along with figures from entertainment, Broadway or Hollywood, recalling the height of fashion in Black and White sophistication.

Included is a silent glimpse of the film scene which produced Nora Ephron’s most famous line of dialogue. A cabaret atmosphere is incorporated by designer Eileen Diss in the stools placed across the stage for the speakers.

All is smart, self-conscious; the sources don’t let down their guard a moment. Yet the result reveals the conscious insights of the women into their behaviour and circumstances.

Various stories are unified by the recurring episodes from the life of Louise Jameson’s Gingy, found lying on the floor in a piece of production that seems arbitrary until the end. And while Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues has been mentioned as a comparison, this show isactually les restricted by the expectations of its title.

There’s humour as well as awareness in the story of how a purse mushrooms with time into major hand-luggage and a quietly moving, unself-pitying account of a mastectomy. Highly involving and enlivening.

Cast: Louise Jameson, Rula Lenska, Rachel Fielding, Cleo Sylvestre, Sarah Lawrie.

Director: Sarah Berger.
Designer: Eileen Diss.
Lighting: Matthew Biss.
Sound/Projections: Matt Smee.
Costume: Jane Kidd.

2015-08-26 17:09:40

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