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The Philadelphia Story – Review by Dee Loveock

This play tells the story of Tracy Lord – a member of a wealthy Philadelphia family – and her relationships with her father, ex-husband Dexter, and her fiancé George. One thing you can always rely on at the Rep is a fantastic set and this was no exception. The box set was the epitome of an upper class, colonial drawing room, with beautiful decorations and lovely attention to detail in the set dressing. It was mostly well lit (Richard Foster) and the sound was good (Graham Elliott).

In the lead role Kate Doherty Johns had her work cut out – not only following in the footsteps of Katherine Hepburn, but she was on stage for almost the entire play. She did a great job though, acting superbly throughout and convincing us that she really was a slightly whiny, flighty woman who really wasn’t sure which way to jump. Tracy Chatterley, as Tracy’s mother, was a picture of grace and serenity throughout, never slipping out of character. Jodie O’Loughlin played Tracy’s younger sister, Dinah – and oh my goodness, she was sensational. For a young actor to take on such a big part is quite a challenge, but this was one of the most accomplished performances I have seen by someone so young. She was thoroughly convincing, and played the precocious younger sister with just the right amount of attitude.

Visiting reporters Joe Hawkins (Mike Connor) and Jenna Kay (Liz Imbrie) tried to get a scoop on the society wedding about to take place. I thought they made a good pairing, and though I would have liked to see a little more feistiness to Jenna’s character, Joe was thoroughly convincing.

Uncles Sandy (Malcolm Farrar) and Willie (Richard Garrett) both injected their own character into the cast. Richard is always such a delight on stage – he injects such an element of fun into everything he does, and this was no exception. I really enjoyed the twinkle in his eye as he behaved somewhat inappropriately throughout! Malcolm, who also directed this play, had to stand in at very short notice as someone had to drop out – but you would not have known this. He gave an assured performance and was very believable.

Tracy’s love interests were played by Steve Loczy and Justin Doherty. Steve played George, Tracy’s fiancé, and a lower-class man made good by hard work. I was not entirely convinced by Steve, partly because he had a ten-gallon hat on which prevented his face from being seen clearly, and partly because he had a heavy Southern accent in contrast to the rest of the cast. Rather than coming across as slightly simple, he appeared to be a bit sleazy. Justin however, as Dexter Haven, Tracy’s ex, was an absolute joy to watch. He really is one of the finest actors around, and I wish he would do more!

Completing the cast with smaller roles were Phil Baker as Tracy’s mostly absent, philandering father Seth, and Jo Collett as the housemaid Mary.

I was not expecting the play itself to be so good. True, it had more twists and turns than a roller coaster, but it was a very funny, well-acted piece. You could tell Malcolm had worked his actors very hard, and they used the small stage brilliantly. I would have preferred them not using the front corners so much, as the lighting here was not great. If accents slipped occasionally it didn’t really matter, and there were a couple of odd costume choices - if you need to fiddle with your skirt every time you sit down, you should not be wearing it on stage – it is very distracting. But overall a great job – well done all.

Dunstable Rep


review date:11th July 2017

Little Theatre, Dunstable

Director:  Malcom Farrar


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