As is well documented, there are not many decent roles for older woman but The Colour of Poppies, a monologue, is an exception.
Beautifully written, rich in language, well constructed and with a depth that fleshes out even the characters only referred to, it is a warm and humorous play that all elderly actresses will want to perform.
Marthe is a 75-year-old widow, whose life seemingly ended when she was forced to marry Edmond – a grey man who sucked all the colour and vitality out of her life once they wed.
But now, several years after Edmond’s death, an artist is brushing strokes of vibrancy across her life – a life that has become as rich as the deep red cravats he wears.
Faith Brook immerses herself in the role, skilfully pacing her delivery as the writing gradually reveals the trials and tribulations of her life. Just as Marthe rediscovers the joy of love, so Brook manages to reveal a young woman living within the skin of one half a century older. The coquettish girl lying across the table at the end of the play is far removed from the elderly woman who first walked on stage.
It is a sensitive, intimate portrayal – almost as if she was speaking to each audience member individually.
Her manly M Cravat, her incredulous children – all are made real by Brook’s performance, aided by Richard Digby-Day and Michael Winter’s gentle direction.
New End, London, September 14 to October 9, then touring until 2006
- Noelle Chatalet, adapted by Yann Le Gouic de Kerveno
- Richard Digby-Day with Michael Winter
- New End Theatre with Brook Horowitz
- Faith Brook
- Running time