The Way of the World By William Congreve

Director Adam Henderson Musical Director Amanda Allyn-Lince Set Concept and Design Simon Webb/John R. Taylor Lighting Design Randy Poulis Costume Design Jenny Lang Sound Design Ronin Wong
Stage Manager Anthony Wade-Cooper

Dates and Venue 24 -27 September 2009 | Jericho Arts Centre

Reviewer Jane Penistan

Congreve’s presentation of the Restoration Period in 18th century London is full of wit and repartee, a fashionable world celebrating the return to freedom from the restraints of the Puritans.

Consequently, morals are less binding and licentiousness almost acceptable. It is fashionable to hide true feeling under the guise of indifference. The play is about infidelity among married couples, but even more, about intrigue and the inheritance of a wealthy old widow’s fortune.

Adam Henderson presents this play in cleverly designed sets, illustrating the elegance of the age. His choreography of the many scene changes is brilliant in concept and masterfully executed by his well drilled cast.

The costumes are in keeping with the extravagance of the return to fashionable display now the order of the day. Wigs, paint, powder and an opulent appearance are de rigueur in town, for both men and women.

The charming music throughout the play is selected from the works of Henry Purcell, with some original song settings by Ronin Wong.

Mirabell (Patrick Spencer) and Miss Millamant (Joey Bothwell) are lovers. Mirabell has had his fling with other women, but is now wooing Millamant in all sincerity. His ladylove is the niece of Lady Wishfort, an aging aristocratic widow who has been a toast of the town.

This forceful and indomitable lady, delightfully and powerfully played by Gwynyth Walsh, hates Mirabell, and wishes her niece to wed Sir Wilfull Witwoud, a bucolic country squire (David Campbell), Lady Wishfort’s nephew. This way her money would stay in the family rather than go to the hated Mirabell.

With the help of Mirabell’s servant Waitwell (Victor Vasuta) and Lady Wishfort’s maid Foible (Susan Coodin), this betrothal is prevented. Other efforts to obtain Lady Wishfort’s money by the nefarious dealings of other acquaintances are averted by the foresight and management of Mirabell, and all ends happily with the engagement of Mirabell and Millamant.

All the cast manages the 18th century English speech convincingly and their ensemble work is admirable.Adam Henderson and his company are giving the United Players a wonderful fiftieth season’s opening present. All theatre lovers should join the party and bring their friends to this splendid celebration.

© 2009 Jane Penistan