MERE Drama Society triumphantly celebrated its 70th anniversary with a production of Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, Constance Cox’s stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s short story.
Set in a grand Grosvenor Square house in 1890, it’s the story of the charming but ill equipped Lord Arthur, 30 years old and about to marry Sybil Merton.
Until a “celebrity chiromantist”, called in by Sybil’s mother, led him up the garden path. Convincing the none-too-bright young peer that his palm revealed him to be a murderer, the charlatan Podgers set the blackmail trap.
But that’s getting ahead.
This is a play full of Wildean wisdom and bon mots, laying bare the privileged and unworldly follow of the upper classes as they float through their cosseted and carefully delineated worlds.
Di Potter’s clever direction brought out the most in her talented company, from Bob Molden’s sentimental and devoted butler Baines to Oliver Cooper’s athletic and neurotic Lord Arthur. Adrienne Howell stepped in at the last minute as Jady Julia, and used her presence and experience to overcome any unfamiliarity with the words.
Mary White’s Lady Windermere was an exemplar of arch arrogance, Juliet Booth was the unfortunate and increasingly fraught fiancee and Penny Allen the aunt with a past.
The outstanding performance came from Chris Wood as Herr Winkelkopf (second name Adolf) an accident-prone anarchist blending bravado with fearful twitching.
The full Friday house showed that there is a taste for funny, clever, classic plays performed with panache and conviction.
Well done to everyone involved.