Left - Jess Norman and Matthew Holmes. Cover - Doug Hansell and Emily Weare. Photos - Tom Evangelidis
Nicholas Papademetriou's vision of Lady Windermere's Fan set in 1950s candy-pink bakelite Australia works remarkably well. The preening affectation and hawk-like attention to what is fitting in 'polite' society that Wilde depicts in this work translates nicely into the stuffed-shirt conservatism of pre-60s Australia. There are occasional changes in the script – expensive streets in Point Piper, for example – but overall this is Wilde at his original and best.
Margaret Windermere, as the story goes, is a woman of high-morals and absolute conviction. In her mind, people are either good or bad, with nothing in between. When she is informed, to her horror, that her husband has been seen about town with a woman of dubious moral standing, what follows is your classic Wildean romp. Parlours and parties, eavesdropping, misunderstandings, secret information, letters falling into unintended hands, and the cheeky wooing of pretty young daughters are all whipped together in a souffle of words. Does Margaret learn about life, society and love? You bet your bottom dollar she does, and Wilde's razor-sharp wit and satire of high society is as keenly observed and relevant to today as any contemporary writer.
While this is a strong cast, clearly enjoying themselves in this production, Beccy Iland is a standout, playing the title role with a fine balance of severe morality, soft femininity, innocence and emotion. In a smaller supporting role, Andy Cunningham is also immensely likeable as the bumbling, eager Mr James Hopper, an American lad, channelling the glossy hair and red jacket of Buddy Holly.
Set and Costume for this interpretation, designed by Karla Urizar, seems to have been whipped up out of spun sugar. Marshmallow pink, creamy whites and pastel blues create a highly polished world that fits nicely with the sugar-light repartee of the characters and is a pleasure to look at.
This production of Lady Windermere, looking at the 'greyness' of life, love and compromise, and the secrets we choose to keep, is well worth a look.
Darlinghurst Theatre Company
LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN
by Oscar Wilde
Director Nicholas Papademetriou
Venue: Darlinghurst Theatre | 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point
Dates: 13 March – 11 April
Times: Tuesday- Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 5pm
Matinees: Sat 4 & 11 April at 3pm
Tickets: Adults: $37, Concession $32, Preview $27