14 May 2009

Time and the Conways by J B Priestley

Mrs Conway : Francesca Annis
Carol Conway : Faye Castelow
Robin Conway : Mark Dexter
Joan Helford : Lisa Jackson
Hazel Conway : Lydia Leonard
Kay Conway : Hattie Morahan
Gerald Thornton : Alistair Petrie
Alan Conway : Paul Ready
Ernest Beevers : Adrian Scarborough
Madge Conway : Fenella Woolgar

Ensemble: Lorna Beckett, Jessie Burton, Lucy Cudden, Lynette Edwards, Simon Markey, Perri Snowdon

Director: Rupert Goold
Designer: Laura Hopkins

Seen during it's revival run at the Lyttelton with a wonderful standby ticket in row E of the stalls.

I seem to have seen so many wonderful contemporary pieces lately that I was almost reluctant to step back into the drawing room but this production was real feast. Paul Ready gave such a beautiful performance that I found myself watching him whilst all the women were chattering away. My prejudice against Ms Annis (dating back to an odious performance in the audience at the Donmar) was restored to one of admiration and Hattie Morahan seemed to bring the younger actors to order when her grace entered the room.

I hardly recognised Adrian Scarborough when he first entered as he had darkened hair and brows and he gives a lovely performance as his character grows. Sadly for Alistair Petrie, there is not a great deal he can do with Mr Thornton as he only has one real scene of any depth but his performance cannot be faulted.

The staging of the timey-wimey sequences was stunning. The transition at the end of the first act made me want to rewind the tape to see it again. The mirror performance effect at the end of Act 2 was so dangerous and could have been so awful if it had not been so beautifully staged. The shimmering, ghostly projections of Kay and Alan at the end of Act 3 were interesting and the use of the Lyttelton's funny safety hatch system was used to great effect at several points during the production.

A wonderful and unexpected night of joy.