Skip to main content

Quality Street


Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

“I am tired of being lady-like,” determines school-teacher spinster Phoebe Throssel to her sister Susan in the second act of J.M. Barrie’s neglected early play, revived here by Liz Carruthers in suitably chocolate box fashion. Such wilful reinvention is born of wisdom and experience after Phoebe effectively buried her fun-loving self a decade earlier when handsome himbo Valentine Brown swanned off to the Napoleonic war. Now, Valentine has breezed back into town, and, uniform notwithstanding, Phoebe wants a piece of the action a non-military intervention should have provided her with years ago. Cue an elaborate conceit that unveils her hidden party girl.

Set on designer Adrian Rees’ circular blue and white room – a kind of chill-out sanctuary where the sisters hold court before turning it into a school – Carruthers’ production is a deceptively frothy confection with subtle depths lurking beneath the surface. As ever with Barrie, the separation anxieties of war loom large, as do keeping hold of or rediscovering the child within in the face of more grown-up stuff.

To offset some of the play’s period foibles, Carruthers and co take full advantage of the ornate elaborations of the play’s stage directions. Such detailed florid flourishes allow them to be rendered by the gaggle of society belles who make up the nosiest of Greek choruses alongside Helen Logan’s cheeky maid Patty.

As the central trio, Fiona Wood as Phoebe, Camrie Palmer as Susan and Alan Mirren as Valentine run giddy rings around each other as Wood makes a metamorphosis from a skittish Phoebe of the ringlets to bookish schoolmarm and back. What on earth Phoebe sees in a bloke so dim he takes a decade to realise she fancies him is the real mystery here in an otherwise pithy rom-com designed to please.

The Herald, June 18th 2018

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…