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A TV cast for Noel Coward's RELATIVE VALUES at the Richmond Theatre

Published by: Douglas McFarlane on 13th Jul 2013 | View all blogs by Douglas McFarlane

 caroline quentin.jpg

The Richmond Theatre is a real classic. It opened in 1899 as one of the many theatres designed by Frank Matcham who went onto design the London Palladium in 1910. The theatre, originally known as the Richmond Theatre and Opera House, is structured into the familiar stalls, dress and upper circles, with four boxes at dress level. The auditorium is a mixture of gilt detailing and red plush fabrics, covering seats and front of circles.  Everytime, I enter the building, it feels like a time machine going back in time.  Which is fitting for tonight’s production. 

Noel Coward’s Relative Values is set in the 1950’s when Britain’s class system was less underground than it is today, and Hollywood stars were revered. The play was turned into a film in 2000 and starred Julie Andrews, Colin Firth, William Baldwin, Stephen Fry and Jeanne Tripplehorn.  Tonight the cast were equally worthy of mention with “Miranda’s Mum” Patricia Hodge , Rory Bremner and Caroline Quentin. All great TV stars and lovely to see on the stage.

Rory Bremner.jpg 

The play was a long one with advance notices advising the first half was 90 minutes followed by a break then a further 60 minutes but we weren’t to worry. The TV actors did a great job of projecting and engaging the audiences and the Trevor Nunn direction made it very watchable. The Richmond audience were in their element. Being largely middle class with a significant proportion over 60, this play was written for such an audience. The play introduced the 1950s in film format with the politicians of the day (Atlee and Churchhill), and the styles and the attitudes to Hollywood celebrity, were nicely integrated with the storyline.  

Nunn’s direction is clever and uses off-stage perfectly with various characters caught listening in excitedly to conversations from behind the door, before being exposed to the audience but never to the person opening the door. The garden off stage left is wonderfully described and imagined, but never seen and several characters march off into the beautiful sunlight, provided by a well thought out lighting design.

Noel Coward was born in my current town of Teddington, near Richmond, so I guess any play with his name would delight the local audiences. Relative Values was a real treat though, with the mix of Downtown Abbey and Hollywood celebrity bringing surprises and keeping it interesting throughout.

Patricia Hodge.jpg
The cast were excellent with particular credits going to Ben Mansfield playing Don Lucas in perfect character and accent and Katherine Kingsley as Miranda Frayle, the love interest in demand from two admiring suitors. Though the stars of the show were the TV actors who showed us they can act on stage as well as on our TV’s.

Tonight (13th July) is the last night in Richmond and according to many reports, the play is destined for the West End, though there were no references that I could find.

Review by Douglas McFarlane, founder of UK Theatre Network


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Doug. This sounds like a great production. I certainly hope it makes it to the West End!
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