Theatre Review: London Wall
PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 October 2016
Authenticity is a byword with the Company of Ten and no more so than on the set of the current production, John Van Druten’s gentle comedy London Wall.
Sitting in the cosy confines of the Abbey Theatre Studio it was easy to be transported back to the 1930s where it was still very much a man’s world in the office and women largely took a secondary role.
Bearing in mind the limitations in the size of the Studio, the set captured the era perfectly as did the clothing worn by the cast and even the way they marched backwards and forwards across the floor.
As director Tina Swain points out in her programme notes, the attitude of the male characters in London Wall ranges from protective and a little patronising to domineering and even predatory.
But the women are not the downtrodden second-class citizens that the audience might expect and by the end of the play there is a glimpse into the future that we enjoy today.
The key character is Helen Miller’s Miss Janus - the rock on which the office of Messrs Walker, Windermere and Co stands. Helen is an accomplished actress with a fine Company of Ten pedigree and she does full justice to the role of a woman who, when the traditional role of marriage and motherhood looks to have gone, takes an unexpected step.
She has fine support from Cate Brooks as Miss Milligan, torn between the contrasting options offered by two suitors, and Katy Robinson as Miss Hooper who is waiting for her married lover to leave his wife. Katy has the posture and gait of a 1930s office worker off to a fine art.
It would have been good to see London Wall make more of Helen Goaley’s delightfully flirtatious Miss Bufton but her role in the play is quite small. Veteran actress Angela Stone though is in her element in the meaty part of Miss Willesden.
The stand-out character in the men’s roles is undoubtedly Daniel Robert Leigh as the oily office manager Mr Brewer and he has fine support from Peter Bryans as Mr Walker and Tom McKeown as the lovelorn Hec Hammond.
And I loved Joe Wackett’s interpretation of the cheeky office runner Birkinshaw, a mixture of cockiness and fallibility.
London Wall is an absolute delight and is being performed again at 8pm tonight (13), tomorrow (14) and on Saturday (15). Tickets are available from the Abbey Theatre box office on 01727 857861 or click here.
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