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“A whimsical revival”

Aimee Stuart was one of many critically and commercially successful female interwar playwrights who have since been forgotten. Her 1940 romantic comedy Jeannie is a bittersweet version of the Cinderella story that also captures the anxiety surrounding independent young women with ideas above their station.

After a lifetime of keeping house for her miserly father, Jeannie McLean decides to spend her small inheritance on a holiday to her dream city of Vienna before seeking a job in domestic service – paradise, she supposes, with a salary and days off that she never got at home.

The ever optimistic and strictly principled Jeannie is a real heroine to root for, played with pure unaffected charm by Mairi Hawthorn. Like a younger, Scottish version of Paul Gallico’s Cockney charlady Mrs Harris, she has a knack for making friends and the innocence of the early scenes with Yorkshire washing machine inventor Stanley Smith (Matthew Mellalieu, perfectly cast) are the play’s highlight.

Nicolette Kay’s production clearly communicates the poignancy of Jeannie’s situation, but the staging and design are executed with mixed success. The foldable set is well suited to the scenes of drudgery and travelling but for the smart hotel, it feels more evocative of a provincial bed and breakfast.

The set changes are on the fussy side, and Jeannie’s evening gown and tiara feels like a heavy-handed homage to Audrey Hepburn. Nevertheless, there is enough warmth throughout to make one sigh with nostalgia for the far-off days of restaurant cars on trains.


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Production Details
Production nameJeannie
VenueFinborough Theatre
StartsNovember 27, 2018
EndsDecember 22, 2018
Running time2hrs 15mins
AuthorAimee Stuart
DirectorNicolette Kay
Set designerJames Helps
Lighting designerHolly Ellis
Sound designerRachael Murray
CastCarol Holt, Evelyn Adams, Kim Durham, Madeleine Hutchins, Mairi Hawthorn, Matthew Mellalieu, Max Alexander-Taylor, Patrick Pearson
Production managerPamela Schermann
Stage managerAnn Bailey
ProducerFinborough Theatre, New Shoes Theatre
VerdictWhimsical revival of a Viennese whirl by an intriguing forgotten female playwright
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Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

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