Monday, 7 January 2013

Overruled - review

Old Red Lion Theatre, London

In the modest auditorium of The Old Red Lion Theatre, Wilmington Theatre Company have created something quite special in their debut production. A trio of short comedies by George Bernard Shaw have been brought together to prove that with spectacularly good acting, Shaw’s writing can still stand up to anything written today. Incredibly slick and eye-wateringly funny, if the rest of 2013 can bring theatre this good, we’re in for a very exciting year.

The first of the plays, How He Lied To Her Husband, sees a young romantic (Leo Wyndham) desperately trying to woo a married woman (Jasmine Hyde) and take her from her husband (Jim Creighton). Wyndham is fantastic as the nervy and flustered young romantic, it’s hilarious to watch him as he becomes ever more bewildered in the face of the equally fantastic Hyde’s uncaring and blasé wife. On the entrance of Creighton as the macho and intimidating husband, this piece expertly crescendos as Wyndham futilely scrabbles for control.

The play from which the trio takes its name comes second; Overruled is the tale of two adulterous couples who upon discovering each other’s infidelities, try their upmost to justify their actions. Whilst it may have lost the shock factor it had in 1912, it’s lost none of the humour, and provides exceptional comic performances from all of the actors. Wyndham returns as Mr Lunn in a similarly flustered role and continues to bring laughs whilst wooing his lover, the wonderfully airy Mrs Juno (Lucy Hough). Equally enjoyable are the hopelessly romantic Mr Juno (Patrick Warner) and the coldly dismissive Mrs Lunn (Alice St Clair), and when the couples join in a whirlwind of hypocritical outrage, arguing semantics and confusing love with marriage, the result is absolutely hysterical, the highlight of an excellent show.

As a finale we are presented with Village Wooing, which brings about a change in the mood of the performance. Whilst the first two pieces were delightfully immoral and borderline farcical in their energy, this piece is a more slow-burning exploration of an inter-class love story, albeit with Shaw’s trademark irreverent comedy. Although fantastically acted by Lucy Hough as the working class romantic, and Jim Creighton as the upper-class intellectual, it feels somewhat anti-climactic after the riotous laughter of the pre-interval pieces.

Director Polina Kalinina manages to inject a great amount of energy into the production and the intimate setting of the Old Red Lion places the audience at the heart of this energy to sweep us along in the characters’ conflicts. For an established theatre company this would be an excellent production, so as Wilmington Theatre’s debut, this is incredible, and firmly sets them as a company to watch. Overruled is so far the play of the year, and I expect it will remain a strong contender for some time.

This production runs until 19th January 2013.
@ORLTheatre @WilmingtonTheat

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Anonymous said...

It it's so incredible and 'play of the year' so far, then why only four stars and not five?

Andrew Crane said...

Hi, thanks for visiting What's Peen Seen and taking the time to read my review. The reason I gave this piece four and not five stars was, as mentioned in review, the final piece which felt anti-climactic in comparison to the first two. Every other aspect of this play was excellent and had it not been for this I would have awarded a fifth star.

Apologies for the confusion over the 'play of the year' remark, that was primarily intended as a joke, (this being the first play I've seen this year) however I would still highly recommend this piece as the majority of it is absolutely fantastic.