by Karoline Leach.
Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, Chiswick, London W4 1LW to 4 November 2017.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thurs 2.30pm Sat 4pm & Sun 3pm.
Runs 90 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0208 995 6035
Review: William Russell 17 October.
A tale about a spider and a fly
Natasha Barnes, who took over the lead in Funny Girl when the star fell ill, receiving rave reviews, plays the fly in this gripping two hander last seen in London in 1997. It is tough luck on her co-star Fred Perry, who plays the spider in – to mix the species – this game of cat and mouse as there is really nothing to choose between them. Both give really good performances. He is George Love, or maybe Smith, a con man who seduces vulnerable women with some cash in the bank, marries them, gets them to hand over the money and, having pleasured them on their wedding night, decamps for his next victim.
She is Adelaide, a milliner who works in the back room of her employer’s shop, shy, obsessed about her appearance, abused by her father and trapped at home. When George spots her through the window of the shop – she is placing a hat she has made in the display – he sees another victim, she sees escape to happiness. They elope.
There is, of course, more to it than that and Adelaide turns out to be far brighter than at first she seems, tackling the problem of George head on. All is revealed at the end. The problem for Natasha Barnes is that Adelaide obsesses about her weight – she is fat, she insists. Ms Barnes is bonny and buxom but hardly obese so the endless complaint about her weight making her unappealing to men is simply implausible.
But she creates a vulnerable, but underneath resourceful girl whose ability to actually do things is released by meeting George – in spite of unmasking him as a philanderer she proposes are perfectly plausible future for them. She rises to the challenges facing Adelaide, making us want her to win this battle of the sexes. He, however, remains a con man to the end – and more. Fred Perry is smarmy and glib, creating the necessary surface charm for someone who fools women into taking him seriously, but revealing just how thick he actually is in his patter, which is full of holes and mistakes, and how seedy he is beneath the smart suit and the charm.
As a vehicle for both it is a workmanlike thriller stylishly directed by Phoebe Barran which has plenty of chills and, when all is revealed at the end, leaves the audience with something to think about – mice beware cats, spiders beware flies, women beware men.
Adelaide: Natasha Barnes.
George: Fed Perry.
Director: Phoebe Barran
Lighting Designer: Matt Drury.
Sound Designer: David McSeveney.
Designer: Max Dorey.