Theatre Monday, October 23
are three possible perspectives for audience members at The French
Lieutenant's Woman - those who have read the book, those who have
seen the film and those who don't know anything about it and consequently
don't have any preconceived ideas.
fall into the latter category and really felt like that was the best
position to be in - having no benchmark with which to compare this
cast did a very good job carving out an intriguing tale about a young
woman called Sarah Woodruff (Katy Odey) who is tormented by a lost
love. Fascinated by her plight, Charles Smithson (Anthony Howell)
gradually oversteps the boundaries of propriety, sacrificing his genteel
existence in the process.
the cast are superb, but Hannah Young as the nauseatingly coquettish
Ernestina Freeman is worthy of particular praise.
cutesy voice and tinkling laugh make the contrast in her behaviour
all the more startling when Charles abruptly ends their engagement
and, to begin with at least, she puts up an impressive and incredibly
course, the crowd-pleaser in the piece is none other than George Irving
as The Writer, best known for his long run in Holby City as brooding
doctor, Anton Meyer.
slightly under-utilised - he spends a bit too much time brooding (again)
as he watches the characters jump from his page - he provides the
much-needed anchor to the production that at times gets carried away
with its whimsical content.
- just as he did in his famous television role - he has such stage
presence that, had he been centre stage more often, he would have
detracted attention away from the rest of the impressive cast who
were doing their best to tell his tale.
about between comedy, tragedy and adventure, once the setting of the
story is peeled away, the characters and their plights are remarkably
Kavanagh triumphs as the pious Mrs Poulteney who is determined to
cleanse Sarah's soul and reform her wayward character.
opinionated and domineering, she loves the sound of her own voice
and hates anyone who dares to interrupt her.
way the rest of the local community pretends to hang on her every
word and then secretly mocks her in private, just goes to show how
little things have changed.
Sarah is confrontational, but in other respects she is far from a
way that her character is sometimes morally questionable and never
fully understood helps to maintain the interest levels over the two-and-a-half
hour running time.