The touring stage production of Brideshead Revisited opened earlier this week in Malvern at the Festival Theatre in the Malvern Theatres group for a one week run. It was reviewed yesterday by John Philpott in the Worcester News and other local papers. Malvern is the closest town to Madresfield Court where Waugh received his inspiration for the Flyte family and their stately home at Brideshead Castle, a point which Philpott notes in his review:
THESE are not people who are easy to like, pampered and cosseted individuals cosily insulated from the gathering storm of the late 1930s. Nevertheless, Evelyn Waugh’s spiritual odyssey through upper class life retains its allure down the decades as some of the characters find redemption while others do not.
He singles out for praise the performances of Brian Ferguson as Charles Ryder and actress Shuna Snow in three male parts–Bridey, Rex Mottram and Kurt the German, in a “glorious voice that is a sort of cross between Prince Charles and Mr Cholmondeley-Warner.” His overall assessment is positive:
…how do you adapt for the stage a story in which the architectural excess almost eclipses the human profligacy? The answer is that you don’t even try. And this is why director Damian Cruden and Sara Perks’ minimalist ‘sliding doors’ design succeeds so effectively. Add to this composer Christopher Madin’s brooding, ethereal score and the dream-soaked ambiance is complete.
Another review by Robert Gore-Langton appeared in The Lady magazine. He had previously written a more condensed review for the Daily Mail. See earlier post. His assessment is less positive than Philpott’s, and to him, Shuna Snow’s attempt to play three male parts “seems absurd.” As he noted in his previous review, any effort to put this story on the stage is a challenge, especially given the previous Granada TV adaptation (in which Gore-Langton played a walk-on, non-speaking part) that “with its gorgeous locations, lingers in the memory so much that it has rather obscured all other attempts to bring it to life.”
The performance in Malvern will continue through Saturday after which the play moves on to Brighton where it opens next Tuesday at the Theatre Royal for a one-week run.