Writer: Alan Plater
Director: Richard Wilson
Hampstead Theatre’s production of Peggy For You is a masterful insight into the real career of famed theatrical agent Margaret Ramsay (aka Peggy), which still carries all the charm and charisma 22 years after its first performance.
Alan Plater’s immensely funny, Olivier-nominated play stands just as strong with a modern audience, with humour, characters, and context as familiarly outlandish as they were in the late 90s. Being a reflexive piece of work, Peggy For You is an interesting perspective on the world of the playwright and agent, showing the beginning, middle, and end of careers and relationships, centered around a woman who became as notorious as her clients.
Peggy For You weaves through the tangled threads of Peggy’s career, seeing her gain a client, and lose two over the course of one working day. In Plater’s introduction to the play, he writes that it was ‘inspired by real events that took place over a twenty-year period’, which are expertly crafted to create a timelessly entertaining glimpse at Ramsay’s life, which no doubt only touches the surface of her unique and colourful character.
In the titular role, Tamsin Greig delivers a delightfully rounded performance of dry wit and self-conscious vulnerability, which is utterly mesmerising. Both comedy and tragedy are perfectly expressed from start to finish, with much of the narrative being established through Peggy’s many phone conversations in the story, all of which bring a different emotional layer to Greig’s exquisite performance. Characterisation and delivery are executed with focus and precision, showcasing the character with undeniable magnetism and personality.
Damusia Samal and Josh Finan beautifully complement Greig’s effervescence with their subtle and collected performances as Tessa and Simon, establishing the dynamic between Peggy and the rest of the world early on. With Trevor Fox and Jos Vantyler completing the cast, each performer lends themselves to the complexity of Plater’s interpretation of Peggy and the relationships with her clients.
Designed by James Cotterill, the simple, yet detailed, set provides a split view of Peggy’s office and her reception area, which, along with Richard Wilson’s considered staging allows events to flow naturally between the two locations, with each act performed as a single continuous scene played out in real time.
As an overall performance, Peggy For You embraces the comedic elements of the circumstances and touches on the more secluded emotional components, providing a balance that is reflective of reality. Peggy’s appeal spreads far beyond the world of writers and agents.
Runs until 29 January 2022