‘Miranda’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 5, 2014

‘Miranda’ is a very dry comedy, packed with puns and metaphors. Peter Blackmore wrote it in 1909, in the Somerset town of Clevedon. This play was based on the short story, ‘The Mermaid of Zennor’, and despite its age, is still fresh and very funny. In 1948, Blackmore then turned the play into a film script.

This 130-minute, light-hearted comedy can be seen at the Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8.00 pm until Saturday 18th December.

 

The action of the play takes place in 1948. It is set in the sitting room of a medical researcher’s home. The room has pale turquoise walls with an expensive, white, winged armchair and matching settee. The rear wall is a balcony overlooking the river and city.

The set was beautifully designed (Rodney Palmer and Lynda Stubbs), solidly built, and tastefully dressed, but unfortunately the ‘phone mouth piece had dropped out, and so the users spoke into space.

Even the massive cockroach that crawled the full height of the wall before taking off, liked the set. The actors never flickered – true courage.

 

       The maid, Betty (Belinda Djurdjevic) tidies up, whilst the smartly dressed, intelligent lady of the house, Clare Martin (Mary Murphy) is chatting to her best friend Isobel. The slightly neurotic and bossy, Isobel (Tayla Howard) is telling of her engagement to Nigel (Brendan Ellis), a scruffy self-employed artist.

      Clare explains how her husband, well-respected doctor, Sir Paul (Rhett Clarke) has returned home from a Cornish fishing trip with a disabled patient whom he wishes to have live in their house, rather than at the local hospital.

      The beautiful, longhaired patient, Miranda Trewella (Natalie Aung Than) it seems, is paralysed from the waist downwards, and so butler / chauffeur Charles (Rodney Palmer) has the task of carrying her into the house. Miranda flutters her eyelashes – that are longer than the finest Highland cow – as she flirts with all of the men. Jealous, Clare asks that Miranda be taken to her room, where she can be cared for by Nurse Carey (Christine Ellis), who is waiting, never suspecting for a second, the VERY strange events that will happen next.

 

The costumes (Lorna Mackie, Lynda Stubbs) were most stylish, perfect for the era and in Miranda’s case, superbly constructed. I heard Miranda’s statistics are 34-22-$34 a kilo.

The lighting on the city scene backdrop was a little poor, but with such a shallow stage, it is very difficult not to get the window frame shadows on the backcloth. However, the lighting effects for the storm were very good (Clayton Reichert) and the small amount of thunder good, but could have been further supplemented. Joshua Davies operated both the sound and lights skilfully.

The direction, by Rodney Palmer assisted by Lynda Stubbs, went very well, with the strong cast grasping their characters superbly. Natalie, Belinda, and Mary performed particularly well. Christine seemed to feel at home with the comedy genre, raising a few laughs.

The humour is subtle, but with some very dry lines. Plenty of chuckles throughout. A most pleasant night out. Recommended.