5 September 2019
When first performed in the late 1970’s this lovely play was blessed with major stars on both sides of the Atlantic – Ralph Richardson and Celia Johnson in London and Rex Harrison and Claudette Colbert on Broadway; a film followed with Harrison and Wendy Hiller. Pretty good I would say.
A story of love lost and, maybe, rediscovered; of love lost and of longing. Aging writer Cecil has never got over his one true love who married elsewhere – after 50 years the yearning has not disappeared, and the chance of meeting again cannot be passed up. Meanwhile, his loyal butler has a secret desire all his own and he is very wary when his devotion to his master might be disrupted by the new arrival.
This is a real actors play – there are no bells and whistles, no histrionics or huge outpouring of emotion. Douglas Home writes with huge restraint, but with an ear in tune with the process of aging and he delivers some wonderfully wry and true comments on the subject. The actors have the chance to offer up these nuggets of gold and are allowed to do so with relish here.
As Cecil – and something of a rascal, James Pellow has plenty of twinkles in his eyes and his lugubrious delivery suits the incorrigible nature of the character. Meanwhile, Evelyn, his love interest is given a wonderfully glamorous and fruity interpretation by Judith Paris – there is a definite touch of Katharine Hepburn about her. The two joust with each other whilst catching up on 50 loveless years – and it is a delight to see actors working off each other so well.
As Hawkins, the long-suffering, pernickety butler, who enjoys a good gossip, Christopher Lyne offers a rather poignant portrait of a disappointed man, whose love for his master probably goes beyond the platonic. Precise in movement and speech it is a performance of great nuance and depth – I loved it.
Set in Cecil’s garden, the audience are treated to another delightful set at Sidmouth – the star of the piece being a rather impressive tree! Robert McWhir’s deft direction allows for great fluidity of movement when it is necessary and great restraint when it is not. Sometimes, it is just a pleasure to see actors being allowed to act!
If you are looking for a raucous night out, then ‘The Kingfisher’ is not for you. If you want to see some exquisite acting with witty and affecting dialogue, then head over to the Manor Pavilion Theatre at once – this is an utter delight.
CAST & CREATIVES
CECIL – JAMES PELLOW
EVELYN – JUDITH PARIS
HAWKINS – CHRISTOPHER LYNE
WRITER – WILLIAM DOUGLAS HOME
DIRECTOR – ROBERT MCWHIR
DESIGN – ANDREW BECKETT
LIGHTING & SOUND OPERATION & DESIGN – STAGE TECHNICAL SERVICES LTD.
COSTUME SUPERVISOR – JANET HUCKLE
COSTUME ASSISTANT – PHOEBE FLEETHAM
PROPS SUPERVISOR – JAMES PRENDERGAST
PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATORS/BUILDERS – TOBY JOYCE, ANDREW BECKETT, CHARLIE EARL
SEASON PRODUCERS – PAUL TAYLOR-MILLS, STUART BURROWS, JONNY CLINES