A servant girl persuades her mistress to write to a man who made her pregnant during a brief romantic interlude. Only after the wedding does the young man discover it is the letter writer he loves.
Review of the Show
THIS production was truly a spectacle of performance elements and character portrayal. The play is set in Melchester (Hardy’s name for Salisbury), with the main theme being of unsettled marriages in an ever thickening plot. The well-acclaimed writer Thomas Hardy uses the story (adapted here by Frank Harvey) to reflect upon his once trapped status within a loveless marriage.
Firstly, before going into the players themselves, I want to take a moment to speak of my praise of the NFP Production Team with regards to the visually stimulating set, props and costumes. The ever-changing beautiful gowns of the ladies of the house were well received by the audience, evident by audible astonishment. Apart from the scene changes that I felt could have been slightly swifter in sustaining the pace of the piece, the backstage and lighting crew were unnoticeable, which in my books means they’re doing a good job.
One heads up I have, that may just be a clever business ploy, was the need for a program to clarify the timeline, as the timing of events after the fair were not always immediately evident through dialogue alone.
The director, Anne Ponting, was clever with her command on the players as there was a definite sense of freedom of the actors, with natural movements and actions. I especially liked the subtle connection between the characters of Arthur and Charles by only them using the single arm chair, setting them perfectly against each other with their differences in relationships with Edith.
Arthur, played by Paul de Burton, was strong and authoritative, having a brilliant character development showing, no doubt, his experience within the industry. Letty (Wendy Beaumont), had wonderful comic timing and was the most solid with both her lines and character on stage. Anna (Naomi Henderson), was the epitome of a young performer, being extremely expressive, funny and an all round pleasure to watch.
Francesca Tucker played Sarah, who was a ray of light and happiness throughout the play, bringing pace, energy and cheekiness. Matthew Traher, playing Charles Bradford, though only appearing for the tail end of the play, gave a confident and dapper performance. The main character Edith, played by Kitty Cecil-Wright, had fabulous pace and energy. Edith was the character with the largest range of emotions, that Kitty really drew the audience into with her realistic and believable performance.
The production as a whole was a splendid evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it as the first production I have had the pleasure of reviewing. Running at Ballard Theatre till Saturday 18th, I encourage all to go and support this superb production.