"A timeless farce with agenda"
by Peter Carrington for remotegoat on 25/07/10

The Philanderer is a mesmerizing and thoughtful comedy of wit and words staged and directed superbly buy the Sell a Door company. If you are a fan of farcical situations then this is the play for you.
We are immediately plunged into a dramatic love triangle between Leonard Chartris (played by the enthralling Michael Longhi) who wishes to marry Grace Tranfield ( Sarine Sofair). However, his current girlfriend, Julia (Kelli White) won't give him up. Throw in the complications of the two girls' fathers and a lovesick suitor for Julia in the form of Dr Paramore and comedy rises with the tempo of this frenetic show.

Any show like this depends on the strength of the cast as well as the script and The Philanderer does not disappoint. Michael Longhi is pitch perfect as Charteris, the titular 'hero'. The way Charteris desperately and energetically slinks and slides around the set, trying to escape Julia's claws and leap into Grace's arms is mesmerising. For her part, Sarine Sofair plays Grace with the elegance and poise that is steely and essential for the success of the play. Much of the emotional punches come from Julia, played by the skilled Kelli White who puts her all into a part that could easily become either a simple figure of fun or so irritating as to make Dr Paramore's affection for her seem unlikely. Robert Rowe and Marcus Taylor are marvelous as the older generation of gentlemen, fathers to the two ladies in the triangle and drawn into the shenanigans.

All the aspects of the play have been well managed by the direction of Bart Williams, meaning that that the production is greater than the small fringe theatre it plays in. The play never ramps up to truly farcical proportions but that is because George Bernard Shaw clearly had more of an agenda than that. He seems to love playing around with the socials changes happening in the 1890s. But despite that script and setting being firmly in the past, it is surprising how much is relevant today and how ahead of the times Shaw was and that is the true power of The Philanderer in 2010. Being able to bridge all this is the triumph of the production, so if you are a fan of wit and wordplay then I urge you to see it while you can.

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