TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES
Book, music and lyrics by Alex Loveless
from the novel by Thomas Hardy
New Wimbledon Studio, 93 The Broadway, London SW19 1QG to 27 September 2014
Tues – Sat 7.30pm Mat Thurs & Sat 2.30pm
Runs 2h 25 mins One interval, to 27 09 14
TICKETS: 0844 871 7646
www.atgtickets.comReview: William Russell 4 September
A feast of melody and fine performances
Anyone seeking a reason to visit Wimbledon now there is no tennis on offer need seek no further than this fine musical Alex Loveless has created from Thomas Hardy’s famous novel about the luckless farm girl Tess Durbeyfield.
Loveless has come up with some enchanting ballads and several rousing chorus numbers for the Wessex peasantry – may one or two too many actually because the first half does go on a bit. In a sense this is very much a work in progress, but that is no reason not to go.
It has a first rate cast led by Jessica Daley as the luckless Tess whose misfortune it is to get raped by her very distant relation, Alec D’Urberville, and then to fall in love with the local lust object, Angel Clare, a prig to end all prigs. Daley sings splendidly and creates a deeply sympathetic Tess, Martin Neely as Alec is the cad of all cads and Nick Hayes a gilded youth as the appalling Angel. He confesses on their wedding night to Tess that he has previous sexual experience, and then throws a wobbler when she confesses her past, which she has been advised not to do, and heads for foreign parts.
Hardy’s novel has been put to music before and it really is hard to see why it appeals. On the page one can be taken into Tess’s world
But on the stage one keeps thinking a present day Tess would have accused Alec of rape and sent Angel packing and anyway it is unlikely today’s Angels would expect to get a virgin bride. Things would not have ended as they do.
Chris Loveless has directed it in fine style, the cast play a multitude of musical instruments and roles to great effect – Catherine Diggers and Marc Geoffrey play all the parents splendidly.
Alex Lovelace’s previous musical was based on Remains of the Day, another intransigent novel, and also had a splendid score. Maybe next time he should find himself a librettist and start from scratch. Even the great Sondheim doesn’t do everything. But as it is this is a first rate affair worth seeking out without delay.
Felix Clare, Jonathan & Ensemble: Luka Belies
Tess Durbeyfield: Jessica Daley
Joan Durbeyfield, Mrs Clare, Mrs D’Urberville & Ensemble: Catherine Digges
John Durbeyfield, Parson Clare, Dairyman Crick & Ensemble: Marc Geoffrey
Retty, Lisa Lu & Ensemble: Emma Harold
Angel Clare: Nick Hayes
Izz & Ensemble: Sarah Kate Howarth
Parson Tringham, Landlord & Ensemble: Guy Hughes
Marian, Landlady & Ensemble: Jessica Millward
Alec D’Urberville: Martin Neely
Cuthbert Clare, Kingsbere Messenger, Policeman & Ensemble: Alex Wingfield
Director: Chris Loveless
Musical Director & Sound Design: Christopher Ash
Movement Director: Lucy Cullingford
Stage Design: David Shields
Costume Design: Penn O’Gara
Lighting Design: Phil Spencer Hunter
Period Movement Adviser: Maria Clarke