My first trip to the theatre in what seems like forever and the first production I’ve seen of the RSC Spring/Summer season.
The play is a comedy from around 1700 and was originally called The Beau Defeated and is about women making their own choices and wielding their own power. The play is written by Mary Rix, an almost forgotten contemporary of Aphra Benn. In fact she is so forgotten that I can’t find any more information about her on-line so am relying on the programme notes.
Mrs Rich is wealthy but wants to improve her social standing. Lady Landsworth has social standing but wants love. Sir John Roverhead, Mrs Trickwell and Lady La Basset have social standing but want money. Sir John, Mrs Trickwell and Lady La Basset think they are using Mrs Rich. Mrs Rich knows she is being used and is allowing it to go on for her own ends. The play ends with Mrs Rich having married a title and Lady Landsworth having found her love.
I loved the costumes designs for the play. They immediately tell you what you need to know about the character without anyone having to spell it out. The set design also did a great job of setting the scene too – simply and without too much faffing.
Sophie Stanton was a wonderful Mrs Rich; a restoration version of Hyacinth Bucket. She showed her character as being both shrewd and human.
Leo Wringer and Amanda Hadingue were also well cast as the funny country bumpkins Elder Carimont and Toni, a hard act to pull off as they were almost always overshadowed by the gorgeous Lossie and Theia, Elder Carimont’s dogs!
I can’t think of anything I particularly disliked or didn’t enjoy about the play, which I think says quite a lot about it; on the whole is washed over me rather than really engaging me. It has a good point to make about ambition being a good thing for women to have and it made that point, it just doesn’t really have anything in it that lingers in the imagination and nags to be brought out and chewed over.
If you like a colourful, fun and enjoyable night out at the theatre go to see it. If you like something to make you think this probably isn’t for you.
But well done to the RSC for rescuing more playwrites from oblivion. We need more Companies to do this.