The Circle at Malvern Theatres Review

The Circle at Malvern Theatres Review


Posted 2024-02-15 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 13 Feb 2024 - Sat 17 Feb 2024

This Somerset Maugham social satire gets a dusting-off for a new tour with a well-known, experienced cast. There's not just Jane Asher but also Clive Francis and Nicholas le Prevost heading up the production.

The Circle is at Malvern Theatres from February 13 to Saturday, February 17 as part of a UK tour. It's a Theatre Royal Bath Production with an air of polish that goes beyond the cast to the staging and costumes too.

The set has luxurious furniture and French doors recreating a grand country house. Even more gloriously decadent are the vintage women's evening dresses. Jane Asher's orange outfit, shown below, even raised gasps of appreciation on her entrance after the interval.

This Somerset Maugham comedy of manners dates back to 1921 and explores the line between following your heart and family responsibility. It's not as serious as that sounds as it's light and frivolous with bubbling humour at every turn. Even if some of the outdated values about divorced women may no longer be relevant, the story still feels relatable.

Asher plays ageing Lady Kitty, who is back to see her son Arnold 30 years after notoriously abandoning him as a child along with her stuffy husband Clive to run off with a Lord. In a strange coincidence, Arnold's bored wife Elizabeth has itchy feet the way his mother did, so will Lady Kitty's experiences deter or encourage her to go ahead with an affair?

The tempo gradually builds with the comedy ramping up fully when the now elderly love triangle comes face to face.

Lady Kitty's ex-husband Clive is played marvellously by Clive Francis. He makes him mischievous and his needling of his ex-wife's lover Lord Porteous is a treat. Francis is obviously a safe pair of hands with decades of experience including Bridgerton and The Crown.

Well-known Nicholas Le Prevost of TV classics like The Jewel In The Crown and Wild At Heart is the somewhat dishevelled Lord and love rival who shows wonderful comic timing. The younger generation of actors are all in fine form too.

It's a play ultimately about love and how far you will go for it. If anything it proves a great script is timeless. Added to that it's a high-class, slick production that bubbles along with ease.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

278016 - 2024-02-14 17:59:52


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