Lady Windermere’s Fan is an Oscar Wilde gem that continues to delight audiences with its charm, wit and playful satire on Victorian hypocrisy. And the theatre company, Ruby in the Dust, succeed in living up to the play’s reputation with their excellent performance at The King’s Head Theatre, one of the oldest theatre-pubs in London.
Bursting with brilliant Wildean lines and satirical comic moments, this play provides an evening of great entertainment. From Lady Windermere’s innocent proclamations about social morality to Cecil Graham’s wonderfully wicked comments on the difference between being tedious and interesting, Lady Windermere’s Fan is lively, funny and charming.
The actors present their characters with great enjoyment and we are transported gleefully into the drawing rooms of the London elite. The director, Lennie Reedman, has made the interesting decision to set the play in the 1930s, thereby using the successful ideas of the 2004 film ‘A Good Woman’. The glittering but also fading life of the rich is the perfect setting in which to expose the hypocrisies of a society obsessed with presenting a facade of perfection. At a time when the role and rights of women were changing fast, setting the play in the 1930s adds a very interesting dimension: what sort of women does Lady Windermere want to become and how can she be reconcile the two tensions of being a modern day, independent woman and being a respectable, obedient and scandal free wife.
Ellie Nunn is an excellent Lady Windermere, giving the character a new life and a new manner. She is young, happy and pleased with life but is also deeply unsettled by the demands of her society. She captures these conflicts superbly and enchants us with her delicious acting. Jo Ashe as the Duchess is marvellous, blessed of course by some fantastic Wildean lines full of paradox and wit, but also by her talented and comic presentation of the aristocratic old lady, both bored and fascinated by everything around her. The audience is charmed by the flirtatious but also rather sincere Lord Darlington, played with confidence by Ruari Cannon and we adore Graham Hoadly as Lord Augustus. He plays character roles with enthusiasm and with an excellent command of the comic note – it is poor Augustus’ weakness at the hands of women that causes the most mirth throughout the play. Oscar Wilde places his most brilliant, contradictory and amusing lines in the character of Cecil Graham and we are delighted by Nathan Lubbock-Smith’s playful performance of this engaging character.
Enjoy an evening at The King’s Head Theatre, a welcoming and intimate space where you can spill out into the pub and outside during the interval. Take a fan – very appropriate and very necessary and enjoy this charming and entertaining performance of an Oscar Wilde favourite.