Brighton Fringe 2012
An impressive sophisticated French comedy, skilfully played.
“The Lover the Wife” was adapted from the French text by Director, Colin David Reese ,who also devised and wrote the original play with the two French actresses Reina Ceret and Stephanie Reynaud, who first performed it in Paris. It has retained a very Gallic feel. and Colin says it was based on a true story of something that happened to an acquaintance of his, and could only happen in France. It is a most intimate story of growing attraction, delicate negotiation and developing love between two very different women. By starting with the latest scene, in chronological terms, we are denied any surprises, but nevertheless the writing is skilful and articulate, and Dee Forest as the Lover, Lydia , and Elena Odessa Ray as the Wife, Christine, clearly portray every nuance of their relationship. Lydia is calm, happy within her own skin, is every inch the warm and free thinking lover, while Christine as the attractive but inhibited wife is given a tender vulnerability .
Only the writing of the quarrel in the final scene seemed too sudden to be fully convincing, though its resolution was well written and brought the play to a satisfying conclusion, tactfully leaving the developing passion to the imagination after the first kiss.
The actresses were excellently dressed to convince us of their prosperity – I particularly liked the kaftan which gave Lydia a becoming sensualit and the luscious fur jacket Christine wears gave the impression of caeless wealthWhile appreciating the difficulties presented by the Fringe situation and the tiny stage, the set failed completely in giving an impression of wealth, and the audience were only too aware of the very low ceiling, particularly when one of the actresses was so tall; and the painting which presumably should have stuck out like a sore thumb from the general smartness and good taste, needed other paintings or ornaments for contrast . The director however managed to keep the actresses moving convincingly in the small space, and there was a good variation of pace. The compromise of having props moved by an S.M sitting in the front row was tactfully and efficiently performed.
The tiny Iambic Theatre is somewhat uncomfortable , with a claustrophobic closeness and rickety , squeaky staging for the seats which seemed often in danger of slipping between the rostra. However the friendly staff made up for this discomfort, with their warm and helpful welcome. And it surely boasts the most glamorous entrance staircase in Brighton with its bright theatrical lighting. During the play, the proximity to the two actresses helped the atmosphere, once they had stopped projecting harder than was necessary in so small a theatre, particularly as the first scene was so much about revealing secrets. This was an enjoyable play which fully held my attention.