Oscar Wilde Season is underway in London. Playing at the Vaudeville Theatre, Lady Windermere’s Fan is taking its turn, this time directed by the delightful Kathy Burke. Given that this script is well over 100 years old, can it have new life breathed into it? Of course, one draw is the superb Jennifer Saunders, back in the West End after 25 years. It’s got a stellar cast, an inviting venue and of course Ms Burke directing it – what is not to love? I set out below five reasons this needs to be seen before it disappears from the stage.
- Most people know of Wilde’s acerbic wit and this hasn’t been lost in translation. Wilde’s original interpretation is emotive and at times sombre. Burke has certainly lightened the atmosphere, taking a different perspective of the piece and running wholly and unashamedly with it. Kathy Burke has made Lady Windermere’s Fan accessible for all – from the sixth formers who studied it at school to their grandparents.
- The cast. The lure (in the main) will be Jennifer Saunders. She is not on stage for long; for the time she is her take on the Duchess is light-hearted and fun. She has the droll mannerisms, the nonchalant nod of the head and the side-eye glances portraying much more than her scripted words. Her ‘naughty’ interval song was a highlight! Alongside her is a cohesive cast, Kevin Bishop, Samantha Spiro and David O’Reilly being the standouts – Mr O’Reilly’s role as Cecil would indeed make Oscar himself proud. Bravo, young sir.
- It was broadcast earlier this week in cinemas across the UK and Ireland, such is the popularity of it. I actually like the idea of this, being accessible to all who cannot get to the West End. It enabled everyone to see how aesthetically stunning the set is, the costumes, very elegant and beautiful; it is a joy to observe. It is a shame that at the cinema, you are unable to buy the programme!
- It is very topical in light of the gender equality, #metoo and equal pay movements. The women in the lead roles make the play. It centres wholly and completely around them. It is an acknowledgement of women being able to do everything that a man can do, even though set in a period where roles were very much defined by gender.
- The masterful lines that everyone knows ‘I can resist everything except temptation’ and ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’. In an age where meaningful quotes are hashtagged every day, Oscar Wilde has succeeded in ensuring that his work is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
Closing on 7 April, Lady Windermere’s Fan tickets are a must-have. Book them here, and don’t miss out on the rest of the Oscar Wilde Season.
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