DIRECTOR Jenny Rae
27th - 30th May
Set in the 1920s, the play revolves around the transformation of four English women who for different reasons are at an unhappy period in their lives. Lotty Wilton spots an advertisement in the Times for a month’s let in an Italian villa that promises “wisteria and sunshine”. Seeing her chance to escape dreary, rain-lashed England and regenerate her life, she joins forces with an acquaintance, Rose Arnott, who Lotty senses is also in need of a respite from marital woes. To fund their expedition, they advertise for additional companions and are joined by the elderly and formidable Mrs Graves and the troubled society beauty Lady Caroline. During their enchanted month in Italy, all four fall under the spell of their idyllic, sun-drenched surroundings and rediscover laughter, learn new truths about themselves and find the romance they long for.
Production review by our NW NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) representative
Enchanted and enchanting is this peep into the microcosm of four ladies who for various reasons are struggling within their every day lives. Two are unknowingly perhaps victims of marriages which are descending into what we would would call today a midlife crisis. One with a husband who is mortifyingly dull; the other married to a famous poet who enjoys a lifestyle in which she is unable to share. The ladies are complete opposites except in the marital sense. Add to this mix a languid, we would say laid back, aristocratic lady trying to escape the artificiality of life by adopting a hedonistic approach to it and finding the approach lacking. Finally we have the formidable lady who relies on running her life within a strict regime and as the years have gone by has almost certainly found that regimentation is no substitute for enjoying what each day brings. So we have four ladies who through an advert in the paper decide to have a break from their everyday
woes and spend a month in Italy and as it turns out an enchanted month in Italy.
Act 1 of this wonderful play allows us to meet the four protagonists: Lottie (Cheryl Barker) of the stuffy husband who is the driving force ; who spots the advert and sort of bullies an aquaintance Rose (Corrie Moral) into thinking about it. Hesitant at first her poet husband is the catalyst which pushes her into going. Lady Caroline (Carole Goodwin) and Mrs Graves (Marnie Clark) decide they will join in providing half the funds needed, Mrs Graves stipulating there must be plenty of Wisteria. How spendidly did this quartet bring out the story in a series of short glimpses into their lives and husbands in the case of Lottie and Rose and the subsequent meetings which take place between them and Lady Caroline and Mrs Graves. Very well written and yet giving us little or no hint of what was to follow in act 2.
Act 2 was somewhat of a revelation; literally the change of scenery brought a new dimension to this piece. Very funny at times almost farcical in it's action. Now we see the development of the characters as they are affected in this new environment discovering themselves, romance and what is missing in their lives. . We are introduced to two new characters Wilding (Mathew Harvey)the owner of the villa and Costanza (Julie Khayati ) who made an absolutely delightful Italian housekeeper and whose every appearance provoked laughter. The plot thickens as husbands appear; Mellersh, Lottie's slighlty pompous spouse who causes the plumbing to explode and whose pomposity is punctured when he subsequently enters wearing just a towel and Frederic the poet who it turns out is one of Lady Caroline's friends in the mad whirl of parties which invade her life. Needless to say amid much fun and laughter wives rediscover their husbands, Lady Caroline finds romance with Wilding and Mrs Graves breaks free of her many prejudices whilst Constanza takes it all in her stride spouting Italian the meaning of which was plain to all the audience. Wonderful stuff this rapport between the written word and the players who caught the characterisations so well due to their own abilities and the excellent direction of Jenny Rae and her Co-director Cliff Inns. If you have not seen Neston Players do not miss their next production everything I have seen them do has been first class.
A last word for the backstage team who provide great support to those on stage. Everything they do is grist to a fabulous mill.