Posts Tagged ‘Peter Bowles’

The Rivals, Richmond Theatre, September 2010

22 September, 2010

How do you play a character who has given her name to a word in the Oxford dictionary? Sincerely rather than as a caricature is what Penelope Keith gave us in her elegantly intelligent and sharply drawn portrayal of Mrs. Malaprop. It was a glowing performance, very well supported by Peter Bowles as an irascibly charming Sir Anthony Absolute, with Tam Williams smugly confident as his son Jack. The pretty and persistently wayward Lydia — Mrs. Malaprop’s niece — was beautifully portrayed by Robyn Addison, making her professional debut. What a delightful performance, and her cousin Julia, and Julia’s beloved Faulkland, were very well performed by Annabel Scholey and Tony Gardner.

Peter Bowles as Sir Anthony and Penelope Keith as Mrs Malaprop

The production by Peter Hall, from the Theatre Royal Bath, is wonderful fun, with excellent comic timing from Keiron Self as Bob Acres, and Gerard Murphy as a delightfully absurd Sir Lucius O’Trigger, looking just like a character from Alice in Wonderland. This period piece by Sheridan, with its stylised sense of humour, is a welcome relief from some of the politically correct theatre of today, and came over without the slightest feeling of contrivance. For an enjoyable evening of theatre it’s hard to beat.

After Richmond the production tours to: Theatre Royal Norwich Sept 17–Oct 2; Cambridge Arts Theatre Oct 4–9; Theatre Royal Nottingham Oct 12–16; Festival Theatre Malvern Oct 25–30; Festival Theatre Chichester Nov 1–6; with an as yet unconfirmed transfer to the West End.

The Browning Version, Rose Theatre, Kingston-on-Thames, September 2009

14 September, 2009


This production by Peter Hall of Terence Rattigan’s play about a classics master at boarding school, was beautifully performed. Peter Bowles was utterly convincing as the dried-out classics master, Crocker-Harris, who has recently suffered a heart attack and is now resigning from the school to take up a less stressful position at a crammer. Charles Edwards was superb as the engagingly human science master, Frank Hunter, and his rather cold affair with Crocker-Harris’s wife, played by Candida Gubbins, was well-portrayed. James Laurenson was good as the non-entity of a headmaster, and James Musgrave was wonderful as Taplow, the pupil who is keen to get his promotion to the ‘remove’, and presents Crocker-Harris with the Browning version of Agamemnon by Aeschylus. The playful mockery of the boys is as nothing compared to the calculated cruelty of Crocker-Harris’s wife, who relates to her husband details of her affairs with the other masters, nor to the cold denial by the trustees of a pension to poor Crocker-Harris, who has served only eighteen years instead of the necessary twenty. Terence Rattigan, and of course Peter Bowles, engage our sympathy for this disappointed scholar who was once a star at Oxford and is now teaching his pupils to read Aeschylus, surely the hardest of the Greek playwrights to understand. What is it that turns bright young people into unloved experts who inspire little more than fear from 99% of their underlings. Whatever it is, Rattigan portrays the result with understanding and regret. An excellent play.