Brighton FringeComedyDramaReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Agent of Influence: The Secret Life of Pamela More

Writer: Sarah Sigil
Director: Jessica Beck
Reviewer: Paul Couch

While Lady Pamela More may be a fictional construct, the events during World War 2 that frame her story were very real.

Lady Pamela is a Times fashionista whose weekly columns rarely stray from the territory of hemlines and hats, couture and camiknickers. However, amid the abdication crisis in 1936, it’s spotted by MI5 that Pamela would be in a perfect position to gain access to Wallis Simpson, King Edward VIII’s “companion”. The King was suspected by the security services of colluding with the burgeoning Nazi party; Wallis of being a Nazi agent.

Agent of Influence is a fine pot-boiler of a story and Rebecca Dunn is wonderful as More, looking for all the world like a young Patricia Routledge and with a RP accent that would make The Queen sound like a market stall barker.

The story, reflecting the superficiality of those who slavishly follow trends in fashion, starts off frothy enough, but soon shifts into a much darker place as Pamela is told by a Jewish colleague about the atrocities already being committed across Germany. This prompts Pamela to agree to cosy up to Wallis Simpson to discover whether David (The King) is actually passing classified information to Hitler.

It’s all derring-do stuff and Dunn’s performance reflects perfectly Wallis’ (aka “The Charwoman) complete disregard for anyone or anything that didn’t further her ambitions towards the British throne alongside Edward VIII. In saying that, nobody here is painted in black and white. Even the playboy King and his socialite squeeze are given numerous shades of grey by Sarah Sigil.

We rather wish Pamela had actually existed or at least is based on a real person and quantifiable events. We know the historical footprints of the abdication crisis and its aftermath. The road leading up to it, peopled by characters like Lady Pamela More, are open to glorious fictional interpretation.

Runs until 29 May 2017 at The Warren: Theatre Box | Image: Contributed  |  @brightonfringe

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