The Philadelphia Story is a fabulous play. The story of a Pennsylvania socialite’s second wedding being threatened by two cynical journalists, her naive sister, arrogant father and menacing, roguish ex-husband works on every level from pure farce to an expose of the press, stopping off at ardent romance on the way. If this production starred a beached whale and some anaemic dormice I’d probably give it a thumbs-up; the fact that this production is a good one with a fabulous central performance doesn’t hurt, though.
The lead role, Tracy Lords, the cool, intelligent and very sly bride, is a fabulous character study and Anne-Marie Oreskovich is perfect, sensitive to every nuance of the role. It’s a hard act to match up to and the other actors did’t all quite manage it in the rehearsal I saw. Edmund Stewart is a brilliant scene-stealer as Tracy’s uncle, but Jonathan Sims slightly undercooks the passion inside Mike Connor, the bitter tabloid reporter, and while William Spray catches the ex-husband’s roguishness well he slightly overdoes it: the result is a performance so satanic you can’t believe somone so self-possessed could ever have fallen for him. More seriously, there were some very variable accents: the Lords never felt quite like they came from the same side of the Atlantic, never mind the same family. Still, these are minor quibbles: this play is a huge amount of fun, and the staging is well thought out with good use of movement around the stage and the character’s gestures to add impact: it’s well worth seeing.