ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
---Our Original London Review by Lizzie Loveridge
Alan Rickman, who was disappointed and disappointing in the Royal National Theatre's production of Antony and Cleopatra,here shows how suited he is to playing Coward on stage, how he can deliver those cynical and sardonic lines with aplomb. Teamed up as he is with the luminescent Lindsay Duncan, repeating their partnership from a few years back in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, this pairing crackles with sexuality. Coward wrote the parts of Elyot and Amanda for himself and Gertrude Lawrence. The delivery now is so very different from Coward's own upper class, stiff upper lip, staccato, British, clipped accents that it gives a fresh feeling to his eternal wit.
The situation is this. Five years after their marriage has ended in divorce Amanda and Elyot find themselves on their honeymoon to new partners in the same hotel in Deauville, their rooms having an adjoining balcony. Elyot (Alan Rickman) is there with his bride, the naïve Sybil (Emma Fielding) and Amanda's (Lindsay Duncan) spouse is the priggish Victor Prynne (Adam Godley). Elyot and Amanda realise that they are still in love and decamp to Amanda's apartment in Paris where after a romantic interlude of a few hours the cracks start to reappear in their relationship. They are pursued to Paris by irate and indignant, Sybil and Victor. In a delightful twist, Sybil and Victor, who have been getting on very well, start to squabble and argue and Amanda and Elyot sneak out unnoticed, hand in hand.
Tim Hatley's opening set, a 1930s hotel front with its paired balconies ascending in pure white is breathtakingly beautiful and gives a sense of space. There are ornamental white bay trees and art deco railings. The whole is lit beautifully to represent another era of elegance and affluence. There is Palm Court music in the distance and lavender lighting as night falls, and we can hear the sound of the ocean lapping the shore. "Moonlight Becomes You" is played so that Elyot can say "Nasty, insistent little tune" and Amanda, "Strange how potent cheap music is." The second and third acts are set in the Paris flat, with a piano and sofas overflowing with cushions and throws for Amanda and Elyot to drape on in their silk pyjamas. It is as if all the baggage from their relationship is reappearing in this darkly claustrophobic set.
Lindsay Duncan as Amanda is a confident, mature, beautiful and very sexy woman. Alan Rickman as Elyot has a sardonic style all of his own. Together they are well matched and infinitely more likeable than their new spouses. They tear each other apart verbally and even roll on the floor physically attacking each other. This is Coward with romance and sex! Emma Fielding does a great job as the immature and annoyingly naive Sybil, with dreadful dress sense. Adam Godley's uptight, geeky Englishman, Victor with the large ears, is out of his depth with a woman like Amanda. They are both foils, if we liked them we might view Elyot and Amanda's desertion more harshly.
I cannot wait for Howard Davies to direct more of Coward's plays with this post-modernist, natural approach. It is worth the price of a ticket to see Rickman trying to grin at his standing ovation, somehow his broadest smile looks like a snarl as he tries to look appreciative while Lindsay Duncan smiles radiantly. This production is a must see. -- Reviewed 7th October 2001 at the Alberry Theatre (with the same cast, director, creative team as listed in the production notes above). .
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.