by Florian Zeller
in a version by Christopher Hampton.
Wyndham’s Theatre to 6 August
Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DA to 6 August 2016.
Mon – Sat 8pm. Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 482 5120.
Review: William Russell 27 June.
Elegant farce about lies, infidelity and what comes after.
This classic very funny farce about infidelity and lies is Florian Zelller light after The Father and The Mother, but packs a rather bitter sting in the tail nonetheless.
Alexander Hanson is Michel, a vain peacock of a man, somewhere in his early forties, who is having an affair with Alice, the wife of his best friend Paul. He simply cannot resist lying and his lies, after Alice decides maybe they should end the affair and his wife Laurence gets suspicious, keep escalating ever more wildly and implausibly. He is spectacularly selfish, and it is not betraying Paul that he worries about, rather that Paul, out of a job, has beaten him at tennis. He thinks he has been allowing Paul to win their weekly games to comfort him in his jobless state, only to find Paul has been allowing nothing of the kind.
The whole thing is a soufflé which rises to perfection. Hanson, jowls quivering, leaping to wrong conclusions, denying what he has just admitted to have done, has possibly never been better, and while he really is rather odious it is both hilarious and sad when he is completely thrown by learning Paul has been sleeping with his wife.
He gets fine support from Frances O’Connor as the icy Alice, Robert Portal as the matter of fact Paul, and Tanya Franks as the hapless Laurence.
The play is a little bit of Pinter, a smidgeon of Yasmin Reza, but also in Christopher Hampton’s witty version very much its own thing. Lindsay Posner’s direction is faultless and there is a stylish and clever set by Lizzie Clachan which takes us effortlessly from hotel room to living room to changing room at the tennis club and a doctor’s surgery.
As for that sting in the tale, well no plot spoilers, but happy ever after is not necessarily on the cards for any of them.
Alice: France O’Connor.
Michel: Alexander Hanson.
Laurence: Tanya Franks,
Paul: Robert Portal.
Director: Lindsay Posner.
Design: Lizzie Clachan.
Sound Design: Gregory Clarke.
Lighting Design: Howard Harrison.
Composer: Matthew Scott.
Voice and dialect coach: Penny Dyer.
Assistant director: Lisa Blair.