Friday, 30 April 2010


26/4/10, Sadler's Wells

90 mins with interval. A game of two halves.

In the first half Akram Khan danced two Kathak-style solos to an accompaniment of tabla, sarod, cello, Japanese taiko drums and a singer with a small square box-like instrument with a keyboard which I didn't recognise. In between the singer sang a song; after the second solo AK took the mic, introduced the (amplified) band and improvised a series of percussion riffs with the tabla player involving the drums, the bells on AK's ankles and both men's voices making a sort of "ricky-ticky-takka" sound. The dances were dull (though the critics praised their marvellous intricacy), the song soporific. But the improvisations, resembling jazz, were electric. AK wore long buttoned tunic-jackets with the skirt cut into panels so it flared out when he pirouetted (which he did with frequency and spectacularly). The musicians were in black, barefoot, except for the Japanese Yoshie Sunahata who wore black and grey to play her drums: a sort of side drum and a bigger bass drum. All sat on the floor.

In the second part we got a piece called Gnosis. It was in five parts and came with a plot, helpfully spelt out on a handout sheet. The princess Gandhari marries a blind prince and blindfolds herself for life. She has 100 children, of whom the first goes to war; they all die, she immolates herself. For this Sunahata turned dancer, and singer. Most impressively versatile. The dance was highly stylised, involving a staff which she laid down at the start then picked up to serve as a blind person's cane. AK came on behind her, mimicking her gestures (very effective) then developing independent moves so it turned into a proper duet including much business with the staff; then he pirouetted wildly and collapsed. She prodded him and turned him with the staff and eventually lifted him with it. They danced, she sometimes trapping him between her arms and the staff, sometimes sweeping it in great arcs as he ducked and dived and dodged. I thought this very effective; Dr T thought it went on much too long.

Then (I can't remember by what process) it all went pear-shaped, culminating in her death and disappearance as the stage flooded with red light. In the coda she returned to kneel upstage centre in a gap between the curtain to sing a haunting lament, while he danced, shivering and trembling downstage. Slow fade, blackout.

Judith Mackrell in The Guardian thought Sunahata was the blind prince and AK his bride. I thought she was the princess (voluntarily taking up her staff of blindness near the start) and he was her son, by turns loving and rebellious. Mackrell also thought the narrative sketchy, which it was, and wanted more, which I certainly didn't.

The design was simple but effective. The curtain was made of some crumpled material which looked in certain lights like a rockface. The lighting in the second half mainly gave us a gradually expanding rectangle on the floor of bright white light.

Am I glad I saw it? Yes. Would I go again? No.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


22/4/10, Royal Festival Hall

3 hrs including interval (the film itself was 134 mins). Carl Davis and the Philharmonia accompanying Karl Grune's 1928 epic version of the great battle. A German response to Abel Gance's Napoleon, though not a patch on it: nowhere near as ambitious or as absorbing or as long (though the battle itself seemed interminable and pretty well incomprehensible, the participants largely indistinguishable except for the "Armee Anglaise" in natty little kilts and the Garde Francaise all in white, which Natasha said made them look as if they were in nightgowns).

Carl Davis's music mostly borrowed from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and from his Wellington's Victory (highly popular in B's own day, despised now, absolutely appropriate in this context). Plus Weber's Invitation to the Waltz for the treacherous Polish countess and a wonderful Berlioz arrangement of the Marseillaise for the scene in which Napoleon's army, sent to arrest him, threaten to shoot him, only to come over to him en masse when he stands before them, unarmed, on a strategically placed hilltop, an says "Surely you would not shoot your Emperor?". And a fine Viennese waltz (which sounded late rather than early 19th century) for the scene at Metternich's Ball in Vienna during which Napoleon escapes from Elba.

It was played with great gusto by the Philharmonia who, according to the sheet handed to us as we entered the hall, were 85 strong, though I thought I counted well over 90. (The reason for the sheet? To credit the sponsors: "Principal Cello's Chair Endowed in perpetuity in memory of Amaryllis Fleming (1925-1999) by the Amaryllis Fleming Foundation and Fleming Family and Partners Ltd"; "Principal E flat Clarinet's Chair Endowed by Mercedes and Michael Hoffman" and so on).

The film was complete bunkum as history: hard to know where to start in listing the errors. It had Wellington not Castlereagh leading the British delegation at the Congress of Vienna (he surely was in Paris at the time); it had Wellington and Blucher meeting in Belgium: "You take Ligny, I'll take La Belle Alliance, and each will come to the other's aid if pressed..." which was not exactly what happened; there was no mention of Quatre Bras; Blucher and Napoleon both rode into battle cowboy-style at the head of their troops; the English were shown falling back all the time at Waterloo and likely to turn tail and flee until news came of the Prussians' arrival, whereas they stayed pretty much where they were throughout (not that there was much danger of Wellington actually winning until Blucher got there); the landscape in which the battle was fought was Mittel European pine forest, not rolling agricultural Belgium, etc etc.

All this went beyond the justifiable simplifications required to dramatise events and turned the film into a wishful rewriting of history: "It was the Prussians wot won it". Interesting that, ten years after the end of the First World War, popular German audiences should have been offered such a romantic notion of war (all patriotism and courage and La Gloire and no-one getting their limbs blown off), in which the French were pretty dastardly (their spy at the Congress of Vienna was a servant who lifted the fireback in the meeting room to load on more wood while eavesdropping on proceedings), the British stoical but inadequate and the principal manifestation of German military prowess an ageing eccentric who had resigned his commission more than once, twinkled and the ladies and twirled his moustaches despite his great age, was soft-hearted, loved his men and was loved by them in return, and refused to let the medic cut his boot off when he injured his leg because boots were in such short supply back at the depot and it would be a waste.

It was Blucher's film. He was played by an actor called Otto Gebuhr with tremendous relish and much mugging, often with intentional comedy (at our first glimpse of him we saw only his rump as he bent over to examine a horse he was buying from a dealer who looked shifty and Jewish).

We also liked Gniesenau (who looked a bit like Mussolini) and the young chap who played the love interest Reutlinger, Oskar Marion, who looked like Errol Flynn or John Barrymore. I'd forgotten how much silent film acting relied on actors' facial impressions in close up: some of them were marvellous.

There were also some fine visual touches, including a crane shot of the battle (didn't think they had those in in 1928). The French army was often shot from unusual angles, including a dramatic top-shot looking down on their serried ranks marching towards the bottom of the screen; frequent shots of soldiers or their commanders silhouetted against the skyline; an interesting shot of Napolon's army following him between two trees in the foreground, down a short hill into dead ground and then re-emerging to cross a wide open space before vanishing into trees. (The British and the Prussians, by contrast, were shot much more conventionally.) There were some nice special effects as well, like a diagonal split screen showing Napoleon's soldiers flocking to him in the top half, a polka at Metternich's Ball in the bottom half; or a fan-shaped multiscreen topshot of delegates to the Congresss scattering in their coaches and with bag and baggage after news arrived of Napoleon's escape from Elba.

There was an entertaining sub-plot involving the young officer, his fiancee, the Polish countess, a stolen despatch etc etc involving honour and betrayal and other juicy things.

The film came with bilingual French and German intertitles and modern English subtitles which I found I didn't need (my French being adequate to the job).


21/4/10, Almeida

3 hours (?). Multi-award-winning American play by Louise Nottage, a reversioning of Mother Courage set in the modern Congo with the focus on the ghastly treatment of women: raped, abused, mutilated, abandoned, their children murdered etc etc.

The set by Robert Jones (who also designed the David Tennant Hamlet and Greta Garbo Came to Donegal) was fabulous: a wonderfully detailed tin shack on the revolve. This was Mama Nadi's whorehouse, where she entertained rebels and government soldiers indiscriminately and took everyone's money.
The rebel leader was a staring-eyed ranter; the commander of the government troops an equally terrifying man first seen in a truly hideous bright yellow shell suit with white T-shirt and sunglasses. Both were clearly psychopaths.
Sophie (Pippa Bennett-Warner) was a young girl who'd been "ruined" -- horribly mutilated, to the point where sex was impossible and she was in constant pain, by having a bayonet thrust into her. Salima (Michelle Asante) was a woman who'd been raped and held captive in the bush for five months after her baby's head was crushed beneath a rebel's boot, and after escaping and returning home had been thrown out by her family for dishonouring them. In one of the less-plausible subplots her husband, called Fortune, now a soldier comes looking for her but she refuses to see him even though he spends all night outside the shack.
Lucian Msamati (a marvellous actor we've seen in Death and the King's Horseman at the NT, The Overwhelming about the Rwandan genocide at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Ubu Roi at the Lyric Hammersmith and who was the male lead in the TV version of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) played the salesman who brings the girls to apparently hard-as-nails Mama Nadi (Jenny Jules) in the first place and courts her unsuccessfully... until the final scene in which she confesses that she too is "ruined" and he nonetheless embraces her. In one sense it was a marvellous theatrical moment: the house was utterly silent. But it was also a sentimental cop-out: a bleak play about a bleak subject, man's inhumanity to man, especially woman, and the utter inhumanity of war, should have ended bleakly as Mother Courage does and as The Overwhelming did. Such American sentimentality compromised what was otherwise an outstanding piece about an often-forgotten human disaster.
Directed by Indha Rubasingham.


18/2/10, Hampstead

We were too knackered and, given the indifferent reviews, decided to skip it. D had a text from A at 20.30 saying it was so bad the other three were leaving at the half.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


17/4/10, Young Vic

1 hr 45 mins straight through. An immersive (ho ho) piece of theatre about life on board a Royal Navy nuclear submarine and about the loss of the Russian sub the Kursk in 2000. A promenade performance on the floor of the Young Vic's studio space, the Maria, entered via a metal walkway at first floor level. Some of the audience (like us) walked down onto the main playing area; others stayed up on the walkway to look down at the action, which happened all around us. Notable for many excellent things but chief among them the sound design which made brilliant use of the undersea noises of sonar and whales and the Kursk exploding and of the tannoyed commands on board the vessel.

We were in the sub. The control room was in the middle; the captain's cabin in one corner; a torpedo in another; the crew's mess room at one end; their bunks along one wall with the washroom and heads in the other corner. For much of the time the principle delights came from observing the life of the vessel on a 12-week secret mission to observe Russian manoeuvres in the Barents Sea: the bickering and bonding, the sexual frustration, the rituals of diving and setting course, and the other rather different rituals of surfacing at the North Pole and becoming "bluenoses".

There was the coxswain, who'd brought a "teach yourself poetry" book with him and was learning to craft haiku (an excuse to elevate the tone of the dialogue now and again); the new dad, obsessed by his baby daughter, who died of cot death during the voyage and presented the captain with the dilemma of whether to tell him or not (in the end he decided not, because they couldn't get the poor chap off the ship mid-voyage); the captain worrying about the onerous responsibilities he faced. The coxswain, in the great tradition of fictional NCOs, was a brick who kept the whole thing together, mediated the crew's bickering and, when the Kursk had gone down and the captain was struck dumb with horror stepped in to fill the vacuum to "suggest" what should be done.

Inevitably we were reminded of Das Boot, especially in the scenes in which our sub glides silently and undetected right underneath the Kurks on order to photograph its propellers. The audience was as silent as the crew. There were also periods of complete darkness, including one towards the end when the Kursk had sunk and we heard the heavily amplified voices of two of its surviving shivering crew, trapped in the stern compartments.

(The dilemma for our sub: having detected knocking from the wreckage, suggesting signs of life, should they surface and alert the rescuers, betraying their presence and touching off an international incident, or should they sail away as per their orders?)

Most of the performances were pitch-perfect. The captain was perhaps the weakest. Our experience of submarine captains (Isabelle's two brothers-in-law) is that they exude self-confidence and would not have made it into the job unless they did; actors nowadays (the heyday of the Kenneth Moore-style stiff-upper-life war hero having long since passed) are too anxious to invest their characters with doubts.

The production is credited to a company called Sound & Fury: Mark Espiner, who directed; Tom Espiner, who played Newdadmike; and Dan Jones, who co-directed and did the sound.


15/4/10, Lyric Hammersmith

1 hr 15 mins. Two (real-life) brothers called Marquez playing all the parts in a succession of double acts based around the idea of an Italian travelling circus: an evil circus-owner and his dumb brother; a gruff father and his dumb son (and the dumb son's brother, now a puppet kept in a carpet bag); a pair of "birdmen", one of whom climbs into a suitcase while the two of them whistle vigorously; a pair of unfunny clowns. Played in the Lyric's studio space with the audience seated on two sides looking diagonally across the playing area.

Not sure if the evening as a whole was meant to be funny, but it largely wasn't. It was supposed to blend slapstick and melodrama and circus and murder and revenge and repetitive variety routines and so on. Chiefly notable for the incredible quick costume changes, often behind a curtain which swished vigorously backwards and forwards. But pretending to be unfunny for comic effect and parodying the tawdry pointlessness of many circus acts only works if you are yourself funny and talented: otherwise it's tawdry and pointless. Some of it was childish but the language and some of the blacker moments clearly weren't suitable for children. The gruff father, who doubled as narrator, was called "Papa Roni", which gives you some idea.

The odd nice touch: the evil circus-owner was murdered at the end with his brother by the gruff father, among whose props was a pair of red shoes that had belonged to his son's dead mother... the red shoes ended up in the dead men's mouths. (The only problem: the shoes were attached out of sight to the bottom of a table, and were meant to be snatched up and deployed during a blackout, but one of them kept falling out of its clips as the table was used in other scenes, so the surprise was lost.)

Originated at the Belgrade in Coventry where it got deservedly poor reviews. Happily it only cost us a fiver on one of the Lyric's Friends Nights.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


12/4/10, Sadlers Wells

2 hrs 45 mins. Rufus Wainwright's remarkably conventional opera about a fading diva (Callas? Fonteyn?) on Bastille Day 1970 contemplating a triumphant return to the stage after six years in seclusion in her Paris apartment, her voice having given out on the second night of her greatest triumph as Eleanor of Aquitaine.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't this. The cast list promised Janis Kelly and Rebecca Bottone, both of whom can certainly sing; in the pit was a full orchestra. But what little one knew of Rufus Wainwright (son of Loudon and of Kate McGarrigle, so presumably a man with his roots in roots music) gave no reason to suppose he'd be adept at managing or composing for such traditional classical forces. We (well, I in my patronising way) feared an embarrassing pastiche. But then much of Lloyd Webber's music is pastiche and it hasn't done him any harm.

In the event it was, if not a triumph then a very decent, dramatic, convincing, sometimes moving and occasionally tuneful evening, and a great vehicle for a fine singer (not forgetting a delightfully simple Act Two opening aria for Bottone, in which she observes that the men in Paris are not like those in her native Picardy, which got the only genuine applause of the night: so traditional).

The music was sometimes derivative. We caught echoes of Puccini and of Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne and snatches of minimalism a la Philip Glass or John Adams. One of the big numbers was, I think, a barcarolle reminiscent of Offenbach's. A thought the horns at the start of Act Two were pure Aaron Copeland. But if you're going to steal, steal from the best. The harmonies were conventional even if quite a lot of the music for the sopranos lay uncomfortably high in their register, as it often seems to in modern works.

It was a four-hander, no chorus, with two silent walk-ons. At the start we see the diva, Mme Saint-Laurent, Regine, alone in her gloomy apartment in her shift with shrouded grand piano and blanket on the sofa where she seems to spend her days. The new maid arrives and bonds with the lonely woman, revealing in passing that her husband beats her. Enter the diva's butler, a domineering man with whom she has a deeply exploitative relationship; he fills the room with flowers. He has fixed up an interview with a young journalist ahead of her return to the stage. She exits, returning dressed in a wonderfully natty little black number and killer heels (the maid wears even higher ones). The young man turns out to be a fan, to have studied as a singer and to have brought the score of Eleanor of Aquitaine with him. They sing the great duet together (Kelly accompanying the pair of them on the piano, which she plays rather well). Then she breaks down as her voice fails. He leaves promising to return that evening for supper and the Bastille Day fireworks.

Act Two sees Regine preparing for supper dressed in full fig as Eleanor, including a fine red wig. She puts on the live recording of her first night as Eleanor. The set breaks apart (back wall rises, side walls pull back, fake proscenium descends -- a word of praise for the fine expressionist lighting here and elsewhere, by Peter Mumford) to transform the stage into that of an opera house, on which in her imagination she sings the duet with her leading man. Then the voice goes again, normality returns, the wig is torn off, she collapses, the butler returns, the young man arrives but with his fiancee (he'd forgotten they had a date) and gets her to sign his copy of the album, the butler rages (he's wasted his life supporting her and now she fails him), hits her, leaves with the maid's imprecations ringing in his ears and begging forgiveness, the maid gets a signed album and is dismissed, the diva strips down to her shift and wanders around the empty apartment until (the front wall with three great windows which was there at the start having descended again) she watches the fireworks, listens to the Marseillaise and then walks out onto the window ledge to her presumed doom (there was an extension over the front of the stage out onto which she strode to be framed in a spotlight before the final blackout; S said she was walking the plank; we wondered if she might jump for real but she'd have done terrible damage to the violas if she had).

All sung in French (but then W is Canadian and he had a francophone co-librettist).

If it sounds melodramatic it was, but this is opera, and it worked rather well: judiciously paced, strongly-characterised, music meshing effectively with the action. S thought the Big Tune from the opera was overused but it seemed about right to me. There was a neat reprise of the maid's aria somewhere near the end as well.

The only caveat: this was an opera about opera, about its power to transport and its difficulty as a medium, and about the pressures of celebrity. Very post-modern, very self-referential. Easy to conjure up big emotions, grand illusions and so forth when your subject is an artform renowned for its big Es and grand Is. I'd like to see Mr Wainwright tackle something more clearly connected with the real world, rather than a beautifully crafted piece of art about art.

It was the London premiere (it was first seen at the Manchester Festival last year -- judging by the photographs on the Guardian website and the synopsis on Wikipedia it's been pared down and simplified considerably since, and partly redesigned and recast with a new director, Tim Albery in place of Daniel Kramer). The theatre was full slebs and there were snappers at the door; we plebs in the second circle had to wait an age for them all to get upstairs to the reception before we could get out to the street. At the bottom of the stairs we met the band waiting patiently to go up for their free drinks. Someone spotted Boy George (wonder what he made of it?); I managed Graham Norton and Bill Paterson glimpsed in passing on the way out.

At the curtain call Wainwright came on wearing an utterly outrageous pink tartan suit.

I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.


9/4/10, Barbican (Silk Street Theatre)

2hrs no interval. Cheek by Jowl. Will Keen (very impressive in Cheek by Jowl's The Changeling and in The Duchess of Malfi at the National) as Macbeth and Anastasia Hille as his Lady.

Missed it. Had to go to the Isle of Man. D liked it, and so did Kim, who took some spare tickets we had; Janet, who took my ticket, disliked it; S fell asleep and subsequently complained that Macbeth was underpowered and sometimes inaudible and that if you didn't know the play you might not have followed what was going on. D reported a very spare production and a violent one, no props, taken at a tremendous lick.


5/4/10, Donmar

Another dud from the Donmar, though we were seeing a late preview. Mark Haddon's theatrical debut, he of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. That was about autism, this was about bipolar disorder.

A (who has experience of bipolar disorder in the family) liked it a lot. She evidently recognised something truthful in the fractured narrative, the vaguely hallucinatory succession of disconnected scenes and Jodhi May's performance as Kay: bouncing, funny, confident one minute, howling convincingly with distress and hatred the next.

The performance was good, but the play itself was all over the place. The chronology was deliberately jumbled and badly signposted. It began and ended with the central character's death, which was fine; but as matters proceeded she was sometimes a child, sometimes an adult, sometimes married, sometimes not. Her mother was alive, her mother was dead, her mother was alive again. At one point she was pregnant, but no child apparently resulted. There seemed no logic to this, though perhaps A would say there is no logic to bipolarity. The problem was that without clearer signposting we were adrift and, frankly, a bit bored. And there were too many long speeches.

Worst of all was the character of Jesus. First he appeared as Jesus, long hair, beard, flowing white robes, glossing his career for the modern and sceptical Kay. Maybe he was a figment of her imagination. Maybe he was a fellow-inmate in the loony bin. Who could tell? Then he appeared as one of her ex-boyfriends, re-encountered when she went awol from her marriage; a weekend of reputedly great sex ensured. Then he appeared to give a lecture on the process by which the human body decomposes (dragging on by way of illustration a "body" wrapped in polythene sheeting). And your point?

The other characters were conventional. There was Kay; her husband John (Richard Coyle, rather touching), who loved her but was ultimately driven to despair by her impossibility; her shit of a brother (Paul Hilton) and a her widowed mother (Celia Imrie, a bit shaky still). Mother was widowed and, beneath her posh exterior, needy: father had hanged himself when they were children. There was a vivid description by the brother of finding his body and remembering only that he'd wet himself and his bowels had opened.

There were some nice touches. In the first scene John announces to the horrified brother that he has killed Kay and hidden her body in the cellar. John you assume is the madman, the brother represents outraged decency. By the end you see why John was driven to it and the brother is revealed as distinctly iffy. Kay is fascinated by polar bears and remembers a visit to Svalbard (real or imagined?). In one early scene she chatters excitedly into her mobile claiming she's in Oslo. Is she really? No way of knowing.

The set consisted of a bare stage, a back wall of sliding glass panels with a corridor behind it and a walkway above (they had to get down rather clumsily by a ladder). Kay was (wanted to be?) a children's writer and at one stage sheets of paper came tumbling from the ceiling to lie scattered around the stage for the rest of the play. She tried to set fire to them at one point.

Friday, 2 April 2010


1/4/10, Young Vic

2 hrs 20 mins. David Harrower version of an 1895 Arthur Schnitzler play (Liebelei) updated to the late 1920s, directed by Luc Bondy.

Disappointing first half, much stronger second. In part one two lower-middle-class good time girls (milliner's assistant Mitzi and her shyer friend Christine) go round to the apartment of posh Fritz and his friend Theodore for a drunken party. Mitzi and Theo seem uninhibited (though the action never gets beyond drunken pawing, and whenever it threatens to she throws him off with apparent disdain), Christine fancies herself in love with Fritz. Fritz however is conducting an affair with a married woman, though clearly attracted to Christine as well. The party is interrupted by the married woman's husband, a model of wronged rectitude in hat and overcoat and scarf. The girls are taken into another room and shushed; a duel is offered and accepted.

In the second half we're in Christine's flat, which she shares with her father, a violinist in a theatre orchestra, and much of the time a nosy and disapproving neighbour. She imagines heself fervently in love with Fritz; Mitzi comes round; Fritz and Theo come round; Fritz and Christine embrace but he won't say he loves her; he goes off to fight duel and is killed. At the end, when the news is broken to her, she is utterly distraught.

The ending was evident a mile off, but the script neatly fixed the ambiguities of Fritz's position. It helped that Tom Hughes, who played him, has a narcissist's face; he was good at suggesting Fritz's self-absorbed brooding on the impossible position he'd got himself into, and incipient panic at the prospect of the duel; but vocally he was a bit underpowered.

The women had it. Kate Burdette as Christine utterly convincing, girlish, flirtatious, petulant, only just out of adolescence; and she brought off her hysterics at the end remarkably convincingly (when they took the curtain call Hughes looked smug, she still looked distraught). Hayley Carmichael (who co-founded Told by an Idiot) very funny as the neighbour. Natalie Dormer (who was apparently Anne Boleyn in The Tudors on TV -- Wikipedia claims this is her first stage role) pert and worldly as Mitzi.

Hughes looked the part (a touch of the Jonathan Rhys-Myers about him, in fact) but needs to project more; Jack Laskey as his friend Theodore had no trouble projecting as the noisy, jokey (though ultimately serious) good time boy with spectacle and in the first act extraordinarily sticky-up hair which was slicked down and neatly combed making him look quite different when he arrived at the end of act two in officer's uniform, not so much to bring Christine the bad news (she divined it herself) as to react petulantly when she collapsed and he complained angrily of how much pressure he'd been under himself.

Audience on three sides of a circular raised playing area, which slowly revolved. Bed, screen, grand piano, a couple of chairs and a small table in the first act and a black-framed window which revolved with the stage; bed, screen, rocking chair, white-framed window ditto in the second. Entrances and exits had to be up steps strategically placed around the revolve; there was a trolley with drinks and cakes and crockery in the well at the front in the first act, and music stands as if in an orchestra pit in the second. The steps might have been a disaster; in fact the cast negotiated them with aplomb, and occasionally the set-up was used to positive effect, like Theo coming on at the very start, teetering on the edge of the revolve, or the wronged husband stiffly and deliberately negotiating the window, which had got in his way at the top of the steps.

Great dresses -- flapper-style in the first act, a lovely white cotton number for Christine in the second act.