Fringe Box



Ladies in Lavender – Stage Dragon

Published on: 9 May, 2012
Updated on: 10 May, 2012

by The Stage Dragon

How do you make the Yvonne Arnaud stage seem like the Cornish coast? You had better ask those responsible for the production of Ladies in Lavender showing there this week. Within seconds of curtain up I was transported back to the summers of my childhood, spent traversing the various cliffs in beautiful Cornwall.

The effect was aided by very realistic sound design from John Leonard and Liz Ascroft’s intricate set. Divided into four playing areas, I was sure there would be too little space for the actors to move in; however they navigated the set with ease – not once breaking through the walls our imaginations were encouraged to create.

Mick Hughes’ lighting design was also clever and inventive, creating time lapses, storms and various shadowy scenes.

The play follows two sisters living together in a quaint cottage in a small fishing village in 1937. After a particularly nasty storm, the sisters – Ursula and Janet, played respectively by Hayley Mills and Belinda Lang – spot the washed up body of a young Polish man bound for America and agree to take him under their wing and nurse him back to full health. However, the arrival of this talented foreigner disrupts the otherwise peaceful lives of the sisters and their community.

Andrea plays for Lavender Ladies Ursula and Janet

Hayley Mills and Belinda Lang work together well, supporting each other in their relationship as sisters whilst showing a real connection, especially during their more emotive scenes. Both elegant onstage, Lang’s character shows more poise and composure which is in contrast to Mills’ rather naïve Ursula. Hayley Mills’ voice is sumptuous, exactly right for her character and brilliantly utilised during the scenes where she reads from The Little Mermaid to the poorly Andrea, sending him and perhaps a few audience members to a blissful slumber.

Hayley Mills and Belinda Lang

Robert Duncan gives excellent support as Dr. Mead who treats Andrea, the young man who stays with the Widdington sisters. Robert Rees as Andrea has developed a very convincing Polish accent, not to mention his injured foot in the first act. Olga, played by Abigail Thaw, is another character that requires challenging accent work to achieve credibility. Thaw achieves her task with ease. The comical, light relief character of the play is the sisters’ housekeeper Dorcas with some moments of delightful comic timing from Carol Macready.

Overall this production is elegant and incredibly moving. Furthermore, it includes the superb, Classical Brit award winning music from the film, composed by Nigel Hess. Which supports the final scene exquisitely – I feel sure in saying mine were not the only tears in the audience.

Do not miss this truly stunning production, showing until Saturday 12th May.

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