Treating Odette review at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London – ‘warm and witty’
Jennifer Selway’s three-hander Treating Odette is a treat to watch. Inspired by her friend Patricia Law who worked in an exclusive Mayfair beauty salon where the clients included the actor Anna Neagle as well as Odette Churchill, the Resistance heroine portrayed by Neagle in the 1950 film Odette.
The conversations that Selway imagines for the two radiate with humour and warmth in John Plews’ tender and intimate production.
The pastel-hued set evokes the epitome of glamour (for those who could afford it) and the illusion of a brave new post-war world for young women.
Red Gray is an absolute delight as seemingly carefree film star Anna Neagle, a jolly nice girl from West Ham made good, and at 45, considered past her ingenue prime.
The inquisitive Patricia (Charlotte Peak) is every inch the immaculate modern career girl with a glamorous job in which she is treated like a favourite niece by her favourite client, even if what she really longs for is marriage and children.
Jessica Boyde makes a superb, dry-witted Odette who survived unimaginably harrowing experiences (sanitised in the film so that the public wouldn’t be put off) and finds herself mortified at being treated like a celebrity.
There could be something grotesque contrasting the horrors of Ravensbruck with pampering in Mayfair. But these three characters show that rituals of beauty aren’t just about overpriced face cream but can sometimes form part of a healing process, one requiring trust in other women.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.