Ah! The promise of the Donmar’s production of Trelawney of the Wells! A late Victorian comedy, by the well-known Arthur Wing Pinero (whose The Magistrate had me rolling in the aisles), that was billed as a love letter to theater!
It’s hard to express, in as many words as would get the feeling across, how unbearably dull this entire evening was. Too much of actors hamming it up (actors playing actors, my God, I could be forever put off the idea after this and Kiss Me Kate), too much of actors rehearsing a play, too much obvious plot twists, and not nearly enough funny. I was unenthusiastic in the opening scene in the back stage of the Wells theater, for Trelawney’s going-away dinner; I had a few laughs during the scene in which she attempted to enter normal society (“Stop your crying! Save your tears for the bedroom! This is WHIST!”), but come the interval I was wondering how I was going to get through to the end of the show (and finding the answer at the bar). Trelawney’s second act conversion from successful comedienne to starving artiste didn’t touch me at all; and I felt disassociated from the entire show and impatient for it to end.
And it did. As a comedy, it had a happy ending. As an audience member, I had the thrill of getting out the door at 10, which wasn’t quite as good as the thrill of not having bought tickets to this would have been, but so it goes.
(This review is for a performance that took place on February 19th, 2013. The show is booking through April 13th.)