Jul 1 2011 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
THEATREGOERS to Trelawny Of The ‘Wells’ would be well advised to study the programme notes for a mini history lesson on the heirarchy of a British theatre company during the 18th and 19th centuries.
This will go some way to shedding light on the characters of this Victorian piece by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, written in 1898 and now well past its ‘use by’ date.
It’s a large PFT-style helping of colourful froth served up by a cast of 16, lavish sets and gorgeous costumes. But the flimsy storyline seems to find a dead-end come the fourth and final Act, mired in a chaotic rehearsal scene as Pinero’s heroine Rose Trelawny strives to resurrect her acting career.
Miss Trelawny is the effervescent rising star of Sadler’s Wells who decides to give up the carefree world of the theatre to please the Establishment family of Arthur Gower, with whom she has fallen hopelessly in love.
Members of her theatre company headed by Mr and Mrs Telfer gather in the Telfers’ parlour to bid farewell to Rose. But she later discovers her new staid and stifling life under the watchful eyes of Arthur’s grandfather, the choleric Sir William Gower QC, and his prim great-aunt, Miss Trafalgar, is not for her.
When some of Rose’s old theatrical chums infiltrate her new abode late at night, she determines to make her escape and return to acting – but her sparkle has gone and she is dismissed from the company.
The Telfers and their company are also struggling in their profession, unable to defend their positions as young blood courses through the London theatre scene.
The comedic aspect of Pinero’s piece is smothered by an overload of blustering 19th century actors, played to excess by the 21st century cast. No one can criticise them for their robust performances, but director John Durnin has them over-egging their roles to the point of irritation for this reviewer.
Trelawny Of The ‘Wells’ plays in repertoire until October 15.