Brideshead Reviewed in Oxford (More)

The Oxford Mail and other local papers have carried a report welcoming the stage adaptation of Brideshead Revisited back to its academic home. The report is accompanied by photos of members of the cast and crew in the dining hall of Hertford College where Waugh lived as an undergraduate. It concludes:

Company director Mark Shayle said: “We have had a fantastic time touring this new stage version of Brideshead Revisited and are delighted to be performing in Oxford, where the novelist himself, Evelyn Waugh, attended Hertford College. “It’s amazing to perform this show in the city that inspired it.”

Meanwhile, two bloggers have reviewed this week’s the performances at the Oxford Playhouse. One, blogging as Easy Retirement, attended on the night the performance was interrupted by a thunderstorm which cut off electric power for 10 minutes. According to this reviewer:

This was the most exciting part of the evening. Award winning playwright Bryony Lavery has tried to rush through a novel that was far more attuned to the leisurely pace of the brilliant 1980’s TV series. I found most of the production to be very disjointed as we race from scene to scene. I didn’t mind the ultra modern set, but it’s use only made the pace even more frantic…There is definitely a play to be made from this classic novel, but this wasn’t it.

The other blogger (Agent Catfish) was more positive:

Mummy issues were explored; insecurities were shared; artistic creativity included; the impact of war; but most fascinatingly for me, maybe as I didn’t get it or understand it the first time, the influence of religion, specifically Catholicism, can have on one’s life, not just in terms of the choices you make but the guilt you carry…

The casting is also very good, ‘Julia’ is guarded but loving; ‘Lady Marchmain’ detestable and thankfully not my mother; ‘Sebastian’ you just want to cuddle and remove him from the situation; and ‘Charles’, although hardly off stage, manages to present and inhabit a character whom is reversed, frustrated and a true friend, in the most believable way possible.

And the adaptation – picks up on the essentials. The memories are explored, a variety of places are visited, and time moves back and forth, without you ever being confused or feeling ‘You know what this doesn’t work’, because it does work. Lavery has taken a much loved book, TV series and movie, and turned it into a thoroughly enjoyable, thinking piece of live theatre.


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