Charles Essex reviews Breath of Spring at the Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth
Breath of Spring
Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth, until September 1
Tickets: 01926 856548
Review by Charles Essex
This Ealing-style comedy, at the other end of the social scale to The Ladykillers, is a wonderful 1950s crime caper.
The characters are upper or middle class genteel ladies who have fallen on hard times, lodging with a titled lady Dame Beatrice – who had the title but not the money to go with it – who hit on the idea of stealing fur coats. Coordinated with military precision by a fellow lodger, retired Brigadier Albert Payne (ideally played as a no-nonsense old buffer by John Dawson), they become a team of silver burglars. It could have been Last of the Summer Wine with posh accents and more laughs.
In keeping with the excellent period set and costumes they use their ill-gotten gains to give funds to the needy. The strong cast maintained their accents throughout, with beautiful received pronunciation from the upper class Wendy Morris (Dame Beatrice) and Val Witlock (Lady Miller), and Linda Connor’s various character accents on the phone were a delight. Sophie Mobberly’s Cockney accent as the maid evoked the rough diamond –Artful Dodger character who counterbalanced the naïve enthusiasm of the thieves, bringing a touch of Jeeves and Wooster to the plot.
In the third act Jill Laurie played Hattie, the dithery weak link in the gang, to perfection.
The timing of the sniping comments between Dame Beatrice and Lady Miller as they vied for the love interest of the Brigadier gave added humour to the plot.
This was a marvellous light comedy to start the Talisman’s autumn season.
* Breath of Spring runs until September 1. Visit talismantheatre.co.uk to book.