Stars explained: * A production of no real merit
with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not
enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real
life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A
good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely
achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a
great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major
flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic
which lifts theatre to another plane.
The Woman in White
The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster
The best way to enjoy The Woman in White is not to find out too much about it if you can.
Wilkie Collins' 1859 Victorian thriller is said to be probably one of the first works to employ many of the classic detective processes found in so many literary mysteries over the years.
The story centres on a case of potential duplicity. A chance encounter by art tutor Walter Hartright with a mysterious woman dressed in white, who it is revealed has escaped from a London lunatic asylum, opens the door to a sinister country house plot.
The woman in white bears an uncanny resemblance to a Miss Laura Fairlie, who is engaged to the scheming Sir Percival Glyde. Glyde has a deep secret and wickedly hatches a plan to steal his future wife Laura's fortune.
Glyde is also engaged in blackmail with the sinister Count Fosco, who in turn controls Glyde’s own desperation. As the story moves forward you are drawn into the need to find out the dark secret Glyde holds. There are elements of romance and comedy but this gentle mystery is full of surprises and is highly entertaining.
Walter Hartright, played elegantly by Simon Hawkins, is the art tutor who is employed at a large Cumberland estate and unfortunately falls in love with Laura, his student. Out of respect for his position and her engagement he leaves, only returning to her rescue after it seems all is lost.
Faye Stanton as Laura and Hannah Tolley as Marion. Picture: Alex Powell
Laura is played by Faye Stanton and was excellent, portraying both roles of Laura and lookalike lunatic escapee, Anne Caterick. She was convincing in both of her characters and together with Mr Hawkins they made their forbidden romance very convincing
The scheming Percival Glyde was played by Stuart Wishart and his delivery of his characters acerbic comments and rudeness made a strong impact within the formal setting of this pleasant country household.
His partner in crimes was the wicked Italian Count Fosco and was brought to life by Colin Young. He clearly revelled in the dark devious side of his character often topping it with his villainous evil laugh.
In contrast was the wheelchair-bound Frederick Fairlie played by Patrick Bentley. Fairlie over sensitive to light and cold drafts and with his crazed and offensive manner created some comic moments to offset the intense drama.
Consistent as ever in her performances was Hannah Tolley as Marion the supportive, loving half sister of Laura who is concerned but helpless to stop the events that unfold.
There is sound support from Stephen Downing as the family solicitor Vincent Gilmour who foresees the potential outcome of Laura’s downfall but whose advice is ignored. Also Sue Hunt as the stalwart housekeeper Mrs Vesey reduced to tears by Glyde’s rudeness.
Played out on a delightful and well out thought set and together with its charming period costumes, The Woman in White is a delight to watch.
With skillfull direction by Jen Ellington this tense mystery gently cruises to its outcome, but at all times keeps you guessing right until the end. To 13-05-17