Theatre review: London Wall, St James Theatre, London
Monday 13 May 2013
As a study in the personal trials and tribulations of life in the office, John Van Druten’s 1931 play is a little closer in style and banality to Ricky Gervais than to the advertising agency in Mad Men.
London Wall in the City may have hummed with activity down the decades, but it rarely had the glamour, or the cocktails, of the movers and shakers along Madison Avenue. And a hot lunch date could lead you to a Lyon’s Corner House tea shop, or even the Express Dairy.
And if you were a young short-hand typist, or a secretary, you went home to Forest Gate or Stamford Hill, fending off the wandering hands of the office lothario while dreaming of the day your prince would come to whisk you off to the suburbs and give you a family.
Van Druten is remembered for writing I Am a Camera (“Me no Leica” said one disobliging critic) based on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin memoirs, source of the musical Cabaret. So this fascinating rediscovery is another feather in the cap of the little Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court where Tricia Thorns’s competent revival was first seen earlier this year.
The general office of Walker and Windermere solicitors is where the underpaid, over-worked typists unbutton their frustrations, yearn for true love and skip round the desks and files beyond the reach of Alex Robertson’s suavely pleased-with-himself Mr Brewer.
One of them, Maia Alexander’s pretty nineteen year-old Pat Milligan, is not quick enough, and finds herself severely compromised – well, pinned against a wall and clambered all over – having initially been touchingly seduced by Brewer’s advances.
This office “romance” is making her blind to the devoted pining of a shipping clerk downstairs, Hec Hammond (Timothy O’Hara), who is obviously more suitable as he is studying French and wants to be a writer.
One of the other girls is about to give up on the married man who won’t leave his wife for her, while the senior typist, Alix Dunmore’s willowy, slightly sad Blanche Janus, is edging towards middle-age with parents to worry about and no prospects.
There’s a jolting piece of bad news for Blanche in the last act, but the regular visits of an importunate client, Miss Willesden from Brighton, whom Marty Cruikshank plays as a sort of exploding pineapple in silks and toques, result at least in an act of unexpected kindness.
To 1 June (0844 264 2140)
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 What are your fingerprint words?
- 5 Gary Lineker involved in Twitter row after presenter rubbishes claims he will be warned by BBC over foul-mouthed tweets
Thomas Heatherwick creates gin palace with a fantastical Willy Wonka vibe
Idris Elba 'absolutely' wants to play James Bond
Cilla, episode 2, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith continues to shine
Kendrick Lamar: New song 'i' released on Soundcloud sampling Isley Brothers - listen here
Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God