14 March 2014

A Lady of Little Sense at the Arcola Theatre

Going to see Punishment without Revenge, the first play that I saw in Arcola's Spanish Golden Age Season, may have been something of a risk but it was so brilliant that I had no choice but to see the other two.

My diary was somewhat against me and so I did not get to see A Lady of Little Sense until its final performance almost a month later. Better late than never.

Friday evening transport is never at its best in London so, despite leaving home in what I though was good time, I did not get to the theatre until about ten minutes before the studio opened. Luckily there was not such a long queue this time and I was able to get near the front of it after grabbing a bottle of Meantime's lovely Love Not War.

The set was much as before, a wall with a big door. The door was different though.

The lady of little sense indeed had little sense, we saw her trying to learn the alphabet and complaining that there were too many letters in it. She was also very beautiful. Her father was aware of her failings and had given her a large dowry. This had attracted some suitors, some more ardent that others.

She had a sister who was remarkably intelligent and while perhaps not such a blushing beauty was certainly attractive (I suspect that the actress was more attractive than the character was meant to be).

The story then resolved around who will marry whom.

Who wants to marry whom, and how they feel about that, changed several times under the conflicting (and changing) pressures of money, intelligence, beauty and parental duty came in to play.

The play was an absolute riot of comedy and the audience was literally convulsed with laughter a lot of the time. I don't know how I kept on my seat.

The humour came from the dialogue ("hand fried rat" stole the show though "Catalonia" was a close second), the characters and their situations.

All of the actors were superb though a special mention has to go to Frances McNamee for being the Lady at the centre of the story and for wearing an absolutely stunning red dress in the second half. And to think that she came with a dowry too!

Everything about the production was masterful (again) with oodles of little touches that helped an already bright show sparkle a little more. For example, I liked the way that the sisters' two maids interacted with each other as they changed the props between the scenes.

And while the original story reached it's predictable end with all the right people marrying the right other people, this version added a neat twist to the end with another little love story that was both moving and funny.

It was perfect theatre.

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