Review By Judith Robinson
Some cages are gilded with gold. But no one wants to be trapped for too long, according to playwright, J.M. Barrie, in The Ten Pound Look. Barrie, the author of ‘Peter Pan’, was an apparent champion of women’s rights. It certainly appears so in this 1910 comedic drama that focuses on the hard fought freedom of a wealthy man’s wife. With the price of a portable typewriter (ten pounds), Moya O’Connell, as Kate, has managed to escape from her dictatorial husband, Sir Harry Sims, played by Patrick Galligan. Photo by David Cooper
A chance encounter in Sim’s home, fourteen years later, finds Sims little changed, but Kate emancipated.
The heat of the play is found in their witty repartee—taking swipes at one another in caustic lines reminiscent of Oscar Wilde. O’Connell undeniably wins the duel with her composed, centered and almost yogic portrayal of someone who has mastered the martial art of marriage and survived. Galligan is equally spellbinding in his stuffy, bombastic, and rigid enactment of a man about to be knighted. His energy is captivating and it’s not hard to understand why, in her youth, Kate allowed herself to be en-caged. It’s also not hard to understand why she left.
Once again, designer William Schmuck has provided the perfect backdrop for the events on stage. Touches of cranberry in the rug and the curtains off set the dark, dreary setting room, illuminating a glimmer of hope, or perhaps, spilled blood on the arena floor. The elements combine almost magically in this production—rhythm, music, tone, atmosphere, movement and appropriate silences—heighten the understated, satirical wit of Barrie’s lines. The actors are magic—but so too is the skillful hand of director, Lezlie Wade, who conducts them. This is a symphony that rises and falls in surprising places and doesn’t miss a note.
This lunch-hour drama is not to be missed. The Twelve Pound Look is playing at the Court House until September 12th.