"Upper classes Wildely ridiculed again!"
by Tim Mottershead for remotegoat on 17/06/18

‘Lord Arthur Savile's Crime’ is a stage adaptation, by Constance Cox, of the short story by Oscar Wilde. Wilde’s premise here occupies much the same territory as some of his more famous creations, namely ridiculing the English upper classes.

The play commenced in the sumptuously upholstered late Victorian drawing room of Lord Arthur Savile. A brief conversation between Lord Arthur (Josh Holden) and his trusty butler Baines (Morgan Edwards) establishes that Lord Arthur is to be married the following week. He has invited his aunts, Lady Windermere (Sue McHugh) and Lady Clementina Beauchamp (Anne Davies), and his uncle, the Dean of Paddington (David Glindon), to discuss the forthcoming arrangements. Also on the guest list is his betrothed Miss Sybil Merton (Laura Rigby) and his future mother-in-law Lady Julia Merton (Elaine Pratt). However, he hadn’t anticipated the appearance of the celebrated Mr Podgers (Rana Das) who has been brought along by Lady Julia for the express purpose of reading Lord Arthur’s palm, to discern whether he is a suitable husband for Miss Sybil. If he doesn’t acquiesce to this demand, the engagement will be terminated.

As far as the public palm reading is concerned, everything appears to be rosy, with even Lady Julia Lady declaring herself satisfied. However, the palmist privately informs Lord Arthur that he will commit a murder, adding that his powers of divination are “infallible”. Lord Arthur therefore feels compelled to act on this information as soon as possible, observing that “it would be unfair to Sybil if I murdered somebody after we were married.”

To this end he enlists the help of the faithful Baines, and together they hatch a plot to kill one of his elderly relatives. Unsurprisingly, when things don’t go exactly according to plan, they co-opt eager to help local bomb-making anarchist, Herr Winkelkopf (Martin Pritchard), who merely adds to the bungling buffoonery, and general mayhem, as the trio attempt to work their way through his relatives. What could possibly go wrong? It really needs to be seen to be believed!

It is to the considerable credit of the adaptor Constance Cox, and, indeed, all involved in this production that it played as if conceived for the theatre. The creative team were completed onstage by Beki Smith as Nellie the maid. The production was directed by Jon Atkin, assisted by David Glindon, who also acted as stage manager with assistance from Sarah Doyle. The set build was supervised by Farrell and Mark Roberts, with lighting from Fred Dixon and Patrick Sandiford. The costumes, as sparling as the dialogue, were by Kate Smalley and the wardrobe team. The play runs until Saturday 23rd June.

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