Luxury opening for Southwold

Love's A Luxury, by Guy Paxton and Edward V. Hoile , Jill Freud & Company, Southwold Summer Theatre, St Edmunds Hall, Southwold until July 21 and Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh July 24 - August 1.

David Green

Love's A Luxury, by Guy Paxton and Edward V. Hoile , Jill Freud & Company, Southwold Summer Theatre, St Edmunds Hall, Southwold until July 21 and Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh July 24 - August 1.

What better way to way to open the theatre season at Southwold than with a fast-paced comedy?

Director, Anthony Falkingham, had his cast fully charged up for the opening performance of this highly amusing play - first performed at the same venue in 1984 when, as this time, Jill Freud herself took the part of Mrs Harris, the housekeeper.


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The plot, as with many good comedies, is outrageously potty. A theatre impresario, Charles Penwick (Clive Flint) arrives at a holiday cottage without his new wife; she has left him as the result of another woman being seen leaving his London flat (innocently as it turns out) early in the morning.

The “other woman”, Fritzy Villiers (Ann Wenn), turns up at the cottage to offer her sympathy but when Mrs Pentwick (Jemma Churchill) arrives to patch everything up with her husband, there is a need for subterfuge leading, of course, to cross-dressing, mistaken identities and total mayhem.

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Richard Emmerson, a great comic actor with superb timing, leads the gallop towards uproar. He plays Bobby Bentley, Mr Pentwick's leading actor, a former pantomime dame whose services are quickly pressed into action.

Into the race to achieve total chaos comes the excellent Jeffery Perry as Mr Mole, the gullible, prudish, egg-borrowing, ex-scout master camping nearby.

There are also excellent performances from Rosanna Miles as Molly, the incredible attractive maid, and Ben Tillett as the Pentwicks' solid son, Dick.

This is a fast-paced and energy-packed production with full-on performances from members of a cast who know their stuff.

Love's a A Luxury may seem dated in the way it depicts its male-female relationships but it is a well written piece of work and a brilliant choice for Southwold and Aldeburgh audiences who like nothing better than to bask in nostalgia. And, in the midst of shifting economic sands, who can blame them?

One figure sadly missing from the traditional first night formalities was Sir Clement Freud whose death earlier this year denied the audience of his usual eloquent welcoming speech as well as his saucy jokes.

David Green

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