Writer: Georges Feydeau
Director: Michael Friend
Reviewer: Joanna Forest
The Public Reviews Rating:
The Primrose Path by Georges Feydeau, the master of french farce, is a collection of three different short plays: School for Lovers, Love and a Piano and Late Relations, presented here in a new English version by Michael Friend. Written over a period of twenty-five years from 1883 to 1908, the stories mirror Feydeau’s own changing and darkening view of human beings caught up in the mad game of love.
The stage of the Pentameters has been designed to accommodate all three plays with no scene changes. A School-Room, A Music-Room and A Bedroom all merge into one another seamlessly. Michael Friend’s expert direction cleverly takes his actors across all areas of the stage in each play, a clever use of the space. The setting by Godfrey Old, along with authentic costumes totally convince us that we are in turn of the century Paris.
School for Lovers is a delightful two hander. We see children Henriette and Rene more interested in planning their future together as husband and wife, rather than concentrate on their school lessons. Marusiya Kalinina and Robert Durbin capture the children’s enthusiasm perfectly, and the first of this evenings plays is charming and highly amusing.
Love and a Piano revolves around a rather embarrassing misunderstanding. Unaware that throughout they are talking at complete crossed purposes , Lucile and Edward are baffled as to why their meeting is not going to plan. Evelyn Campbell and James Owen certainly bring out all the comedy, speaking to the audience directly at points, we really feel we are part of the confusion. Robert Durbin creates a lovely character as Lucile’s servant Baptise.
Late Relations is a hilarious roller coaster as we are shown an extremely bad night for Yvonne. It all starts with her husband Lucien returning home drunk after attending a fancy dress party, and goes downhill all the way from there.
All the actors from the previous two plays are involved in this last one of the evening, and I was so impressed at their versatility, showing us very different characters in the same evening. Evelyn Campell takes us through all the emotions that Lucille feels, from irritation, anger, grief, hysteria and happiness. Marusiya Kalinina as grumpy sleepy maid Annette is very funny, Robert Durbin as Joseph has bags of energy helping to keep the momentum of the play. James Owen as Lucien is totally entertaining and has you laughing out loud at many moments.
A throughly enjoyable evening.