Photo by Abbie Ford Warren
Thundermaker Productions
The Tabard Theatre, Chiswick
June 3rd-21st, 2014
Photo by Abbie Ford Warren

by Laura Patricia Jones

In the contemporary age of theatre, we now find ourselves with gritty performance artists, daring new writing, and an aftertaste of Sarah Kane – the traditional ‘tread the boards’ style theatre has become lost. Misalliance by Thundermaker Productions at the Tabard Theatre, revives the vintage theatre that fringe forgot.

Entering the theatre, the set is very well composed, representing the epitome of a Victorian summerhouse. Unfortunately for the audience, the setting is so realistic that the temperature inside is not dissimilliar to the humidity found in an Edwardian greenhouse, but such are the disadvantages of period drama. On the outset, the play feels very much of its time, RP, slow gin and toodle pip old chap. But as the play unfolds, we begin to discover that this show was in fact very ahead of its time and in fact quite the lost classic.

With Misalliance, we follow the story of Hypatia, a bored heiress to her domineering fathers underwear fortune.  She is trapped in an unhappy engagement, longing for excitement, when magically a plane crashes at the bottom of the garden bringing a handsome pilot and daring female companion to reap chaos upon a quiet afternoon in Surrey.

Within Misalliance, writer George Bernard Shaw creates a subtle feminism which at the time would have been very in your face and unheard of. A female pilot, a woman with brains? Unthinkable!  Anna-Marlene Wirtz as the feisty and headstrong Lina Szczepanowska not only manages to seduce every male character, but the audience along with her as she demonstrates everything that is wrong with the traditional thought on love and women at that time.

In contrast, Piers Hunt as the dashing pilot Joey Percival encapsulates the Edwardian playboy, and James Taylor Thomas’ performance of Bentley Summerhays reaches higher decibels than a pre pubescent chamber choir soprano. There is not a weak link in this cast, but these three in particular ensure the audience are constantly entertained.

Overall, the show is tightly executed and well delivered. I feel the cast can afford to play with their characters slightly more as it is certainly a script to have fun with, and for fans of this kind of theatre – a summer evening treat!

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