By: Unmasked Theatre
Writer: Harriet O’Neil
Director: Joanna Rosenfeld
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Winners of the 2020 Brighton Scratch Night bring their witty and thought provoking play to an appreciative audience at the Rialto Theatre.
It is England in 1921, a world of post-war liberation. Victoria lives with her Parisian girlfriend Celeste. They are both deeply in love but cannot truly be themselves as neither of their families are aware of their situation or just not willing to accept their sexuality. Making life harder for the couple is the fact that homosexual acts between men are illegal, while female homosexuality is completely denied by the law makers and society in general.
As the play begins, Victoria prepares to consider confronting her parents about her sexuality again, after a disastrous attempt to get through to them failed not so long ago. Her parents are old fashioned and judgemental, it’s a difficult relationship, but, Celeste feels Victoria shouldn’t hide anymore. Before she feels she can muster up the courage to talk to her parents again her sister, Jane, comes to stay with the pair. She is much more progressive and supportive of her sibling, and when Victoria finally “comes out” to Jane her response is loving in a “Of course I’ve always known” kind of way.
While Celeste seems the more carefree, sophisticated and confident of the couple, she too is hiding the secret that she and Victoria are a couple.
As the piece goes on both women embrace who they are and nervously, with the full support of Jane, embrace the world as they truly are.
Unmasked Theatre, who do a good job at bringing lesser heard stories to the stage, have done a fine job on this play. The dialogue, written by Harriet O’Neil, is sharp and often very funny. The acting is all exemplary. The father of the piece is played wonderfully as a blustering, stuffy old fool and the mother very well as the angry and anxious matriarch.
The central three performances are also all very well played. Jane is played as a fabulously upbeat, “Famous Five” type character, with great comedy timing. Victoria twists and turns within her anxious states and is wonderful to watch and Celeste is performed with an excellent air of French sophistication.
With a stellar cast and erudite writing A Very Great Mischief is well worth a watch.
Reviewed On 17th May.