by John Galsworthy.
The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 9 September 2017.
Tues-Sun 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2 hr 10 mins Two intervals.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 24 August.
A daring choice to revive,
There are safe plays to revive, and risky ones and this, according to the author, “comedy for idealists” falls in the latter category. All credit to the Finborough for taking it on because while critically welcomed when it was first staged in 1922 it was not one of John Galsworthy’s more successful plays. The March family are well off. Father Geoffrey is a novelist with enlightened liberal ideas, mother Joan is a typical middle class wife who conforms to the ways of their class, daughter Mary is well meaning and their son Johnny, spoilt from childhood, is a war poet suffering from post traumatic stress, although that is not what it would be called then. Into their lives comes a new parlour maid, Faith, daughter of the philosophically inclined man who washes their window. She is newly out of prison having served a two year sentence for infanticide. Should they give her a job? Mother says no, father and son feel they have a duty to rescue her even if she does not want to be rescued.
But Faith is, after two years in prison, wants freedom to enjoy the world and is not uninterested in men. Johnny is a man. They are discovered by the family Cook – comic domestics are the stuff of such plays – kissing and all hell breaks loose. It is an odd piece, but there is plenty of life in its still.
Charlotte Brimble is a splendid Fay, a girl seeking something better from life than it has given her, and provides the piece with the tough, unsentimental centre it needs. David Shelley bumbles beautifully as Geoffrey, man who cannot face reality, Duncan Moore is suitably impassioned as the ridiculous, self obsessed war poet Johnny, Carolyn Backhouse as the iron lady mother has a delicious drunk scene in act three, and Vincent Brimble emotes in fine style as Fay’s philosopher window washing dad.
Director Geoffrey Beevers keeps things moving, and the issues the comedy raises – familiar themes in Galsworthy’s work about class, money and the impact of the Great War – come across clearly. A welcome revival of a play which, while it has dated, – look how it is almost impossible to call a spade a spade in front of the ladies in the action packed third act – it proves a risk worth taking.
Mary March: Eleanor Sutton.
Johnny March: Duncan Moore.
Joan March: Carolyn Backhouse.
Geoffrey March: David Shelley.
Mr Bly: Vincent Brimble.
Faith Bly: Charlotte Brimble.
Cook: Janet Amsden.
Blunter: Jacob Coleman.
PC Barnabas: Christopher White.
Director: Geoffrey Beevers.
Designer: Alex Marker.
Costume Designer: Georgia de Grey.
Lighting Designer: Robbie Butler.
Music & Sound Designer: Richard Bell.
Stage Manager: Hannah Williams.