Lady Windermere’s Fan – The Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham
I’ve always been a great admirer of Oscar Wilde’s work since my young teenage years at school reading about his life, times and prodigious literary output. For me, his legendary wit has an incomparable essence and has not dated in any respect when given a modern airing. It was fortunate then to hear from my friend, Clara Gonzalez that she had auditioned successfully for the part of Rosalie, the maid in Oscar’s 1892 work, Lady Windermere’s Fan at her theatre company, The Lace market Theatre in Nottingham. Here arose the opportunity to watch my friend in her debut performance for the small and excellent company and experience an evening of Oscar Wilde wit and wisdom.
The Lace Market Theatre is a successful operation based in a beautiful old building in Nottingham’s popular Lace Market area. For the unwary it is secreted cosily along Halifax Place just around the corner from the city’s Lace Market tram stop. The theatre has a charming and bijou floor level theatre of around one hundred seats. It has an intimate feel that encourages the audience to engage with the players. Up a small staircase lies a bar with friendly staff doing a great job of keeping the theatre goers happy with drinks, ice cream and teas. It has a homely atmosphere that is difficult not to enjoy.
Lady Windermere’s Fan is a four act comedy which was arranged skilfully and seamlessly into two acts by Director Gill Scott for this production. Oscar Wilde shows early evidence of his scant respect for Victorian society and it’s ‘morals’ with seminal expressions of his stinging satire. In this instance the great man focuses on the sanctity of marriage with great effect. Lady Windermere discovers that her apparently blissful marriage is threatened by her belief that her husband is philandering with a woman of dubious repute, Mrs. Erlynne played with dynamism and yet sincerity and sensitivity by the excellent Carys Thompson. As can be imagined, all is not what it
actually seems in the complex and intricately interwoven plot of several wry twists. Special mention should be made of another debutant, David Tetlow as Lady Windermere’s potential suitor, Lord Darlington. Displaying genuine stage presence, his lusty and excitable adoration of Lady Windermere was all at once convincing, touching and amusing.
It would be remiss of me to offer too much information about the way the play develops for those yet to witness it played out but it is safe to say we learn much about judging people and placing them into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories that are as immovable as stone. Rather as Oscar wrote, we may think of people as perhaps ‘tedious’ or ‘charming’! This is a piece of work that test’s one own thoughts and helps us reconsider the way we relate to others, such is the intuitive brilliance of Wilde’s writing.
Whilst albeit mentioning two of the cast, it would seem churlish to focus greatly on individual names from the cast and pinpoint the quality of their performances because this play was truly a triumph of collaboration, fellowship and solidarity – not just between the cast members but also in the way that Gill Scott directions were faithfully adhered to. Everyone involved in this production can rightly feel proud of their contribution.
It was a happy experience to see my friend Clara in her part as Rosalie. A special thanks to her for I know of the commitment, dedication and hard work she has devoted to the production over the past few months. Well done Clara!
All-in-all another very satisfying evening at The Lace Market Theatre was had. I shall return very soon.
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