Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Constance Cox.
Minack Theatre, Porthcurno - 18th - 22nd June 2007
Review by Chris Moss (Harlow Star)
A criminally funny, Wilde old time
Successfully interpreting a comedy as deftly nuanced as this is no small task, yet global's production of Constance cox's re-imagining of Oscar Wilde's seminal short story was something of a triumph.
A close adaptation, the play teemed with the sparkling wit and acerbic social commentary of the great man, somehow retaining a palpable sense of relevance despite being penned in 1887.
The tale follows effortlessly fey and self-absorbed hero lord Arthur (Richard Holliss), whose wedding plans are shattered when he is told by unsettling palmist Mr Podgers(Mike Mungarvan) that he is destined to commit murder.
Beset with worry , Lord Arthur enlists the help of wily butler Baines (keith Cummings) and eccentric Prussian Anarchist Herr Winklekopf (David Millard) and together they hatch a series of woefully unsuccessful madcap plots to kill off a family member.
Yet with the wedding day approaching and his destiny remaining unfulfilled, Lord Arthur's desperation reaches breaking point when Mr Podgers visits with blackmail on his mind.
Holliss and Cummings' on-stage chemistry was superb, perhaps owing more to PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster than Wide but perfectly suited to the stage, with the loyal retainer acting as confidant and master plotter to his bungling employer's charmingly incompetent aristocrat.
Millard, likewise, shone as the eccentric Winklekopf, exuding an air of infallible pompnand despite his continual failings, while Elaine Elliott's ice-cold take on charmless battle axe Lady Julia Merton was expertly executed.
A superbly measured piece of theatre of which Wilde himself would no doubt approve, this was a soial comedy worthy of the highest praise.
Lord Arthur Savile's crime
Review by Frank Ruhrmund (Cornishman)
Evening stifling yawns rather than rolling with laughter
No doubt Oscar Wiide would have been among the first to appreciate the fact that the wind and the sea were so on the opening night of the Global Theatre Company's production of Lord Arthur Savile's crime, it was as if someone had left open the door and windows in the conservatory of Lord Savile's London house in which the action takes place - there were even waves on the water in the fountain - making it very uncomfortable for players and audience alike.
At the same time, I couldn't help wandering what he would have thought of Constance Cox's adaptation of his story.
A dumping down of the orginal,published in 1887, in which Wilde satirised the current fad of his times for the paranormal, but which today seems totally absurd with its premise that one would "feel obliged to murder someone by next Thursday" simply because of something a palmist, has read between the lines in one's hand. As sticky as ectoplasm and as hard to swallow, it is as silly as, I imagine, most seances are and slight to say the least. Old - fashioned in every sense, the days when bombs in public places, death by dynamite, lethal umbrellas and poison , were acceptable as jokes have long since gone , and even its Wilde-like comments on marriageand murder now seem passe. Although I spend most of its two hours running time stifling yawns rather than choking with laughter , to judge from those around me and the rapturous reception they eventually gave the Global Theatre Company, I was definitely in the minority, who was not amused.
To be fair, while I may have been put off my chocolate long before the last bomb explored, there are redeeming features. The production itself, as directed by Michael Philips and dressed by Christine Powell, bubbles along merrily and moves as smoothly, In fact, as it is good to look at, and the standard of performance is way above average.
A period piece which demands to be played with panache, with elegence, exaggeration and extravagance,it gets all of that from its first class cast.
While each of them makes a mark as a member of the team, ensuring that he or she is a person of some , rather than no, importance, it is their skipper, as it were, Richard Holliss as the would-be crimmal lord Arthur Savile and Keith Cummings as his imperturbable butler Baines, aided and abetted by David Millard as the incompetent anarchist Winklekopf, who score the goals and make it a winner-for everyone, that is ,but me!