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French Without Tears review at Yvonne Arnaud Guildford

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The principal’s daughter is in love with Kit, but Kit fancies Diana.

Diana leads Kit on, flirts with the commander but really has the hots for Alan. Her brother just wants help with his studies. From not much more than this, Rattigan wove a gem of a first play, littered with one-liners that, judging from the first-night audience’s reaction, still amuse – despite the world having moved on a bit since 1936.

The cast works away with a light touch to show the changing dynamics between the characters. Ben Mansfield as Alan allows a touch of the tortured artist to slip through his veneer of aloof cynicism in a performance so assured it is hard to believe this is his first professional engagement. Jenna Harrison is perfect as the luscious yet vulnerable Diana, as is Rupert Young as the practical Brian. Hannah Yelland as the love-lorn ‘Jack’ and Adam James as the commander grow warmer before our eyes. Under Paul Miller’s crisp direction, the production has a very organic feel to it.

But special mention must be made of Ben Lambert. An announcement is made that the actor due to play Kit Neilan has been rushed into hospital five days before opening night, and Lambert, who has taken over, might need to play the role with the aid of a script. That students in a language school carry notes is not distracting. But Lambert’s performance is riveting, whether being awkward, aggressive, passionate or – the high point – farcical in a fustinella.

Production Information

Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, February 14-17, then touring until March 24

Terence Rattigan
Paul Miller
English Touring Theatre
Cast includes
Jenna Harrison, Rupert Young, Ben Mansfield, Adam James, Hannah Yelland, Terrence Hardiman, Ben Lambert
Running time
2hrs 35mins

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