It is quite a feat to hold a premiere of a play, some 40 years after the playwright has passed. Alongside the fact two texts (Less than Kind and the rewritten version of Love in Idleness) had been combined, I was looking forward to what the night had to offer. A stellar cast is presented to the audience, Anthony Head together with Eve Best are the best-placed actors for this, at times long, play.
It is perhaps timely with the current state of UK politics as Sir John and Olivia as the resplendent couple who are the talk of the town. Sir John being a Cabinet Minister and Olivia being his common-law wife. Michael, played by Edward Bluemel is the son returning from Canada at the age of 17 years and 11 months with a somewhat left-wing view of life in the war. To be fair, I had forgotten it was set in the war, and am thankful for the showreel pieces that were nicely intertwined: “remember your blackout curtains, not a peep of light must be seen” being one such reel.
With undertones of Hamlet, Michael is played in quite an arrogant, boyish way – indeed his thick black hair was raked back from his forehead with vigour on more than one occasion. Olivia was the lady desperately climbing the social ladder and all the spoils and trappings that come with that: “We shall dine tonight at the Savoy, in order that we can save rations for Thursday’s dinner party”.
This is where Eve Best shows why she is one of our top ladies – her acting is second to none and she has an air of class and wit about her that is a joy to watch. Indeed, this story is ultimately about surrendering her own personal happiness to please her son, and the multifaceted emotions that came together were touching, to say the least.
Anthony Head knows his diction and has the ability to enunciate each word so it draws home the very meaning. He, too, is a sight to sit back, watch and enjoy.
With a very limited run, Love in Idleness is perhaps one ticket you don’t want to miss.
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