Theatre Review - Lettice & Lovage, Southport Dramatic Club

Lettice & Lovage – Southport Dramatic Club

Lettice & Lovage – Southport Dramatic Club - Credit: Archant

Lettice & Lovage – Southport Dramatic Club – Southport Little Theatre – Friday 21st February 2014 Review by Rob Gemmell

Peter Shaffer’s Tony Award-Winning comedy has performed

countless times since it was first presented in 1987 to audiences in both

this country and across in the United States.

The Southport Dramatic Club have now brought it to the North West.

Shaffer’s play is interesting. Interesting in content as the synopsis of

the story may intrigue you, but it doesn’t give much away.

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Lettice Douffet works as a tour guide at a Trust Home in Wiltshire.

Her tours aren’t proving popular among visitors as the history behind

the house isn’t that interesting. So she decides to inject some of her own version of events into the history of the house and finds the numbers of visitors and level of interest increasing. Lotte Schöen works for the Trust in the HR department and finds out about Lettices’ tours and fires her, but the intrigue behind this woman proves too much for her and the two share a bond with each other that they never believed they could have.

Lettice and Lovage is an extremely detailed play with the emphasis heavy on dialogue and historical fact, a subject which Peter Shaffer studied in his youth. Due to the content it would take a good cast and crew to approach the play in a way where the story and characters in the piece really shine through.

No sooner was the curtain up than the first ripple of well deserved applause rang around the theatre in appreciation of the set in the first Act which was a grand staircase situated in the hallway of the Trust House and true dedication to the backstage crew for their efforts in producing a truly wonderful piece of scenery to begin the story.

The opening sequences feature Lettice Douffet concluding her tour of the house to the general public and we are treated to four renditions, each more elaborate than the last which really amplifies her duty to gain an interest in the background of the house, albeit a fake one. I have much admiration for the direction of Michèle Martin who allowed the sequences to flow effortlessly between each other and the choice to use the same six actors in different guises for each one enabled the action between each scene to be seperated.

In the second Act the story switches from the Trust Home to the ground floor flat of Lettice Douffet, steeped in its own history and it gained another ripple of applause once again from the audience in acknowledgment of the fine work produced by the backstage crew.

The dialogue throughout the piece plays mainly between the leading ladies both of whom performed their roles fabulously. Jacquie Wade portrayed the role of Lettice Douffet with an air of elegance and a suitable amount of eccentricity. She glided with ease through one main speech to the other only faltering intentionally during the opening scenes as she created her own history of the House, a true sign of experience and professionalism. Ann Richards played the role of the solemn and often strict Lotte Schöen who reprimands Lettice for her behaviour, but suddenly feels compassion for her and a connection which transfers during her performance. Ann had her fair share of stage time and brought the complex and lengthy script to life. Mike Yates first appears during the opening sequences and then re-appears in the third Act as Mr. Bardolph, who is a solicitor, in a strong, sturdy performance injecting his own humour into the storyline. Ceri Powell provided excellent support as Miss Schöen’s secretary, Miss Framer, a character trying desperately to impress her boss, but ultimately struggling.

Southport Dramatic Club showed grit and determination in performing this play in which the content is occasionally difficult and, in it’s own way, eccentric much like the character of Lettice Douffet. They proved in their determination that there is also ability and the ability to produce and perform a play of this magntiude proves just how capable they really are.

The excellent attendance at the Little Theatre in Southport doesn’t just prove the overwhelming support of Southport Dramatic Club, but also proves the passion of culture in Southport is strong which is encouraging in this art.

Performances continue up to and including Saturday 1st March at the Little Theatre in Southport. Curtain up at 7:45pm.

Visit the website for more details - @robgemmell1