A night of flamboyance and utter extravagance, When We Are Married highlights just how skilled a playwright JB Priestley was and still is today. Priestley’s creative and humorous piece catapults audiences into the early 1900s, during times of class divisions, industrial innovations and the importance of religion as an overriding factor in society. Three married couples, after 25 years together, find themselves torn apart by a letter to which the contents are pure dynamite. Spreading like wildfire across the lavish mansion house in Cleckleywyke these foolish couples are faced with the difficult (or perhaps not so difficult decision) of having to choose whether to remain as a unit of two, or escape whilst they still can.
Northern Broadsides create a superb blend of classical drama merged with a real sense of present day comedy. The jokes, one liners and back to back arguments have one slightly in stitches and demonstrate the obvious detail at which the company choose to convey the puns without seeming old-fashioned or too traditional. A perfect example of this is when the organ master Gerald Forbes (Luke Adamson) meets up with our three ‘Yorkshire born and bred’ husbands who consider Forbes a Southern ‘la-di-dah’ and a poncey one at that. That is until Forbes reveals the blow that sends the calm and collective sitting room into a fit of panic and hysteria. Panic that slowly makes its way into every corner of the house, and worse still to Mrs Northrop (Lisa Howard) who is about as good as keeping her mouth shut as she is at not answering back. A domino effect that hits every couple hard and ends anniversary proceedings rather swiftly, a fact of course that our drunken photographer and all around funny man Henry Ormonroyd (Barrie Rutter) does not pick up on. Although he does seem to pick up on the amount of alcohol in the spacious room, to which is downed at a rather alarming speed.
A particular character and force to be reckoned with in this production has to be the skill and utter comedic brilliance of the young Rubie Birtle (Kat Rose-Martin) who without doubt steals the spotlight and audience’s hearts throughout. Her hobbled walk in and out of the stage space and brutal honesty during times of obvious social hierarchy leave one feeling refreshed and giggly at points. Overall, a unique take on an old classic that fits in well with the Theatre Royal’s new interior. A jolly good show by all! 4/5
Review written by Luke redhead.
When We Are Married is currently showing at the York Theatre Royal until Saturday 24th September. For more information on the production, visit here…