Boundary Players - Lord Arthur Savile's Crime
7th to 11th November 2000.
Based on the short story by Oscar Wilde this improbable comedy is adapted by Constance Cox and tells the story of Lord Arthur who has his palm read by Podgers who tells him he will commit a murder. Lord Arthur feels duty bound to get it over with before his marriage to Sybil. Aided by the anarchist Winkelkopf his attempts prove futile but it emerges Podgers is a charlatan and Lord Arthur is free. But on the way to the wedding rehearsal he finds the carriage contains Winkelhopf's newest bomb...
Set in 1890, this play has a sparkling script and a cast of 10 colourful characters.
This was the review from the Newbury Weekly News.
'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime' by Constance Cox: Boundary Players, at the William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston from 7th to 11th November
Lord Arthur is to be married, and his future mother-in-law, who rather disapproves of him, gets a famous cheiromantist to read his palm to discover any skeletons in his cupboard. Warned by the fortune teller that he will commit a murder, Lord Arthur determines to do it before he marries. This proves to be harder than he had thought.
Constance Cox's play is based on Oscar Wilde's short story, and as with much of Wilde's work, it deals with the lives of the aristocracy. Lord Arthur was played by Clive Lewington, who grew more comfortable with the part as the play progressed, giving a good rendition of the none-too-bright lord, with some good comic timing. His fiancée Sybil was played demurely by Davina Harris. Colin Benham played Baines, the butler, with aplomb. His splendidly pompous and plummy performance was just right.
When playing aristocratic roles, getting the right mixture of superiority, presence and confidence is not easy, and some of the cast managed this better than others. Particularly successful were Pat Archer as the mother-in-law (a Lady Bracknell to Arthurs Worthing), and Chris Horton as Lady Windermere.
Other parts were played by Maryann Mendum as the doddery Lady Clem, John Maycock, convincingly devious as Podgers, and Joanna Llewellyn in a lively performance, full of personality as the cheekily ambitious maid Nellie.
The production lacked pace at times, due in part to the need for prompts, and could have done with more animation from some of the cast, but there were some excellent comic moments, particularly when dealing with the explosive devices of Herr Winklekopf (Richard Mier) - the casual toss of the explosive ball over his shoulder by the Dean of Paddington (Tony Lewington) was (literally) well handled. At the very end of the play, Baines has to phone The Times: how do you cope with this if you haven't got a period telephone? Producer Colin Webbs solution was to use an imaginary phone on the 'fourth wall' - an inventive touch that I thought was very effective.
This was a good play that I haven't seen before, and I laughed a lot.