Ronald Selwyn Phillips’ much lauded adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s absurd short story is given a disappointing revival in Nadine Hanwell’s flat-footed production.
In a delicate send-up of the silliness of the - albeit still superior - upper classes, this hammy version of Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime sees the eponymous fop conned into believing that he is destined to murder his fiance.
Wilde’s wit is as sparkling and pointed as ever, although even he seems to become weary of the twists and turns that befall his hero, making each more unreasonable than the last. Selwyn Phillips has done a tidy, if prosaic job, entwining each preposterous thread into a neatly woven narrative.
Hanwell, however, has been unable to tie all these strands together convincingly in a production that lacks plausibility and coherence. Jean Christie as a cut-glass Lady Windermere and Kate Sandison as the sickly Lady Clementina Beauchamp are enjoyable. But on the whole, relationships are presented awkwardly. Diction is a clear problem throughout, particularly for Christian Deal’s Lord Arthur Savile. Even when you can hear what they are saying, the cast do not inhabit their roles or the piece enough to transport an audience.