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The Woman In White: a review by Chris High

The Woman In White
By Wilkie Collins

Presented by: The Carlton Players
Ann Welsby, Mark Braund, Natalie Black, David Tolcher, Brian Dickson, Louise Wright, Robin Barlow, Mike Lockley, Eryl Hughes, Phyllis Brighouse, Carol Lees
Director: Eliane Davie / David Tolcher
Adapted by: Constance Cox
The Little Theatre, Birkenhead
Thursday 9th November, 2006

The Woman In White: promotional image

The Woman In White
Review from
The Little Theatre
Birkenhead


If this production of the Wilkie Collins Victorian classic, The Woman In White, is anything to go by, Amateur Theatre in this country is alive, well and thriving. As professional a performance as I have seen this year, The Carlton Players excelled themselves to such an extent that those who have missed this production should deservedly kick themselves.

The Woman In White; Cast Photograph

The story begins with Walter Hartright’s late night meeting of the titular woman dressed in white he rescues from a group of pursuers in July, 1861. Walter goes to work in the service of the selfish and unpleasant Mr Fairlie as a drawing instructor and in doing so meets his niece Laura who strongly resembles the mysterious woman in white. Walter falls in love with Laura, but naturally there is a hitch. Laura does love Walter but is engaged to Sir Percival Glyde. Deceit, love and various unmaskings ensue that explain the strange confinement within an asylum of Anne Catherick … The Woman In White.

As filled with suspense as the Clifton Bridge, there is nothing to find fault with here. The sets were beautifully designed, the costumes glorious and the performances pretty damn near faultless.

Top of the tree, for her duel role as both the duped Laura Fairlie and the tragic Anne Catherick, is Louise Wright, who upheld a near perfect balance of angst and hope throughout the performance, without ever once being over the top.

With Mike Lockley prowling the stage as the evil Sir Percival Glyde, with as many sour glowers as it takes to turn milk, and Eryl Hughes being both as obsequious as a footman and as cunning as a fox in the role of Count Fosco, there was malevolence aplenty, that brought ample amounts of “oooh”ing and “ahhh”ing from the audience in return. Indeed, at times it was difficult to refrain from shouting at the stage “Don’t do it, love”, so compelling is the action that is taking place.

The Woman In White: live action shotBrian Dickson as Frederick Fairlie was deliciously spiteful as the curmudgeonly old hypochondriac, whereas Mark Braund grew delightfully into his role as Walter, who returns to Limmeridge Hall to try to solve the mystery. At his side, Natalie Black as Marion Halcombe, a dour woman in the famous novel, shone brilliantly as the determined half-sister of Laura, whereas David Tolcher (who also directed the production), playing Mister Gilmour, the family solicitor, held just the right amount of bluster and pomposity.

Special mention should also be made of Ann Welsby, who undoubtedly had the line of the evening. “Mister Fairlie is feeling a little low this evening, sir, and personally I wish he were ten feet lower.” Her performance as the much put upon, but nonetheless loyal, Mrs Vesey was excellent in all ways.

This was my first visit to the The Little Theatre, Birkenhead, for some time. Judging by this performance, it is my mistake and one that I will not be repeating.
9/10


www.carlton-little-theatre.co.uk


Programme 2006 / 07
Twisted Angels – A Tragic/Comedy – 17th & 18th November, 2006 (Adults)
The Virgin Express – A Comedy – 22nd – 25th November (Adults)
Peter Pan –to – A Pantomime – 7th – 9th December
Cinderella: The Rock ‘n’ Soul Panto – 13th – 16th December
Cinderella: Traditional Pantomime – 3rd – 6th January, 2007
The Kiss Of Death – A Psychological Thriller – 27th January – 3rd February
My Three Angels – A Comedy – 3rd – 10th March
Educating Rita – A Comedy – 14th – 21st April.

To Book: Telephone 0151 647 6593


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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