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BreakaLeg Productions - Lady Windermere's Fan

23rd to 26th September 2009.

From NODA.

Thank you for my invitation to review Lady Windermere's Fan. I thought that the Director had chosen a very balanced cast with no weak links, the play flowed along at a good pace.

Lady Windermere (Deborah Williams) - her facial expressions expressed her emotional turmoil and made the audience feel for the situation she found herself in.
Lord Windermere (Paul Martin) - played his role with confidence and good clear diction. A small point I would have liked to have seen a better polish on your shoes!
Lord Darlington (Mark Wilkin) - Was immaculately turned out and dealt with the tailcoat properly when sitting down! He grew into his character as the play progressed, I would have liked to see him look more lovingly into Lady Windermere's eyes but I hope he enjoyed his role. Well done.
Duchess of Berwick (Julie Kedward) - A first class performance with 'spot on' timing. You extracted every ounce of humour from the role. Congratulations on another excellent performance.
Lord Augustus Lorton (Mike Varnom) - very relaxed performance, excellent facial expressions and good clear diction. Seemed to have enjoyed playing the character.
Mrs Erlynne (Jenny Shepherd) - Jenny coped very well with this complex character with good clear diction and she made good use of the stage, she was 'a deceptively good bad woman'.
Mr Cecil Graham (Mike Davies) - Looked very debonair and at ease, Mike dealt with some very wordy sentences admirably and obviously enjoyed his role. Well done.
Mr Dumby (Richard Damerell) - Fitted in well with the other principal characters, very precise with his words and at ease in his role.
Lady Plymdale (Janet Rollett) - Looked good on stage and delivered some very humorous lines in the manner appropriate for the period. Well done.
Parker (Peter Bradley) - First rate man for the butler - a real gentleman, articulate and did all his tasks with a minimum of fuss - you have now found a new vocation.

The play has 15 characters and Lady Agatha Carlisle (Mia Scott-Ruddock), Lady Stutfield (Freda Scott), Lady Jedburgh (Jean Hager), James Hopper (Michael Hurd), Rosalie the maid (Mia Scott-Ruddock) were very supportive and played their parts with conviction.

It was also very gratifying to see the efficient way the Butler, the Maid and other stage hands, dressed as below-stairs workers, went about changing the Set for the different Acts, especially from Act 3 to 4 with a minimum of fuss, and very professional. The scenic design of Bruce Scott on such a limited stage impressed me very much, it was excellent especially in Lord Darlington's rooms, this was much admired and commented on.

Lighting (David Margetts), Sound and effects (Peter Bradley) Wardrobe & Wigs (Freda Scott) Properties(Mia Scott-Ruddock) Make-up (Heather Calvert-Fisher and Naomi Barrand) all had done a first class job to ensure that everything was within the period of the play.
Incidentally I was very impressed with the quality of the photographs and the programme.
I did not see any cover for first aid, do you have anyone who is qualified on duty?
I would also have liked to see name tabs on the front of house team so that I could identify and thank them.

Director(Deidre Jones) directed a first class production.

It's a long evening from leaving home at 6pm and not getting back until 11.30 but that did not detract me from enjoying a very professional production, by a very talented cast - and I'm sure these sentiments were shared by the capacity audience on the night.


From an anonymous reviewer.

My thanks to Deidre Jones (Director) for inviting me to this production of this very famous play. The programme presented to me on arrival was printed on glossy paper, complete with rehearsal photos and a biography of the author – it all seemed very professional.

The performance began with a slide show which nicely set the scene, showing several pictures of the Victorian Royal family, and the set itself depicted a late Victorian drawing-room, with side tables cluttered with plenty of photos. The safety announcements before the play started were announced in a Victorian style by Parker, the butler (Peter Bradley) – an inspired touch.

Of the rest of this huge cast (15 in all), they had clearly worked hard at learning their lines in what were some quite lengthy speeches, and all played their parts well. Some, however, inevitably stood out more than others. Lady Windermere herself (Deborah Williams) was very good. She used her voice, which was full of colour, very well, and she delivered her lines with conviction. From the tone of her voice alone, it was always very clear what she was thinking. I particularly liked her confusion when she considered leaving her husband, and then thought better of it. Mrs Erlynne (Jenny Shepherd) too was good, although she did on occasion speak rather quickly, and we lost what she said. Her costumes too were superb. Clearly an experienced actress, she unfortunately forgot her lines once or twice, but handled her prompts very well, effortlessly making them part of the story. Lord Windermere (Paul Martin) and Lord Darlington (Mark Wilkin) both seemed nervous at first, and their actions seemed slightly over the top at times, but both warmed to their parts as the play went on. Lord Augustus Lorton (Mike Varnom) was very good as the crossed suitor to Mrs Erlynne, and the three friends Mr Dumby (Richard Dammerell), James Hopper (Michael Hurd) and Cecil Graham (Mike Davies) were all suitably scathing of her. But my favourite was the Duchess of Berwick (Julie Kedward) who was fantastic; the part was surely written for her!

A good production, and an enjoyable night out. The audience loved it, and Deidre should be proud of BreakALeg’s performance. Good luck with the next one.