A classic comedy romance with plenty of style - The Leamington Observer

A classic comedy romance with plenty of style

The Philadelphia Story

Talisman Theatre

The glamour and style of the silver screen comes to the Talisman in this latest offering and, in general, the big screen manages to find a decent home on the small stage.

A classic of the 1940s Hollywood cinema, The Philadelphia Story takes us into the lives of a well-to-do American family preparing for a wedding at home. There’s plenty of sibling friction, former spouses lurking and the unexpected arrival of a team from a society magazine looking for the real story.

The original picture has something of a stellar cast and, like the Broadway play which packed in audiences before the movie, a script designed to show off fast-paced, dead-pan comedy.

There are hints of this throughout Graham Buckingham-Underhill’s production. The characters are turned up to the maximum and there’s an abundance of wry delivery and laconic wisecracking.

Occasionally the accents are heavy enough to slow the pace below the fizzing tempo being sought but there are enough highlights to keep the whole thing buoyant and even mask some hesitancy on the lines themselves.

Gwen Davis holds the whole production together as the bride-to-be in a commendable performance by turns determinedly self-assured and then appealingly vulnerable.

Strong support comes from Mark Oram, Adam Turner and Dai Rees as the trio of would-be suitors whose affections she juggles throughout and there’s a neat comic turn from Alex Newman as that obligatory Hollywood comic character, the cheeky youngster who knows too much and gets away with everything.

The production looks splendid – a fine window-lit drawing room is peopled by a cast straight of a 1940s sound studio.

Bringing so classic a slab of Broadway and Hollywood legend to the stage is no mean feat and not for the faint-hearted. It’s a brave cast indeed who want to give Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn a run for their money. And though some tightening would not go amiss, this is a creditable stab and a most enjoyable evening.

Visit talismantheatre.co.uk for details of all performances and future shows.

Matthew Salisbury

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