Pros: A well-balanced play with humour and tension.
Cons: Some of the scenes dragged a little.
In this modern day society where a divorce is as common as a box of tissues, a play that focusses on the issues within marriage is readily accepted. I, however, had no idea what I was letting myself in for with the UK premiere of This Was A Man at the Finborough Theatre. I decided to go as I am a great fan of Noel Coward. One of my favourite plays by him is the infamous Hayfever, a barrel of laughs from beginning to end, so I hoped and expected that this play would follow suit. It did not! This is one of Noel Cowards more serious plays. Yes, it is set in aristocratic London with an array of bourgeois characters, but it is much less farcical than his usual work: here he unveils the truths about married life.
The play is centred on Edward, a manic, intelligent upper-class artist played by Jamie de Courcey. Edward is married to redhead Carol played by Dorotha Myer-Bennett. Carol however has a string of fellows on the side. Edward is aware of her foul play, but chooses to ignore it. Edward’s best friend Evelyn, played by Robert Portal, lures Carol into his home in order to prove the allegations against her are true. When Carol then manages to woo Evelyn into bed, a turmoil of love, lust and angst ensues.
I thoroughly enjoyed the play although at times I did feel that some scenes dragged a little. That being said, the standard of acting is of such a high calibre that it didn’t bother me too much. Myer-Bennet plays the role of manipulative concubine with absolute conviction, while de Courcey develops his character subtly and efficiently. Although quiet, his sudden bursts of controlled anger made me jump in my seat. Portal is beautifully affectionate and stern at the same time. Finally Zoë, played by Georgina Rylance, has an effortless elegance on stage and her direct sense of humour had the whole audience laughing.
Although at times I felt some of the scenes seemed a little dry, I left the theatre content. Every actor held their own and as the play progressed, I became increasingly empathetic towards the characters, notably Edward. This is a fun play with a serious connotation. If you don’t go in expecting Coward’s usual hilarious debauchery, I reckon you will enjoy the evening. In addition, the Finborough’s pub is now open so there is no need to nip off to the off licence to get a bevy.
Author: Noel Coward
Director: Belinda Lang
Producer: Samuel Julyan
Box Office: 0844 847 1652
Booking Link: http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2014/this-was-a-man.php
Booking Until: 2 August 2014