Fine Music Radio – Monday 14 October 2013 – Cape Diary 13:00 to 14:00
“The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr and Reginald Denham. Directed by Celia Musikanth for the Fish Hoek Dramatic Society. At the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, from Friday 11 – Saturday 19 October 2013.
Reviewer: Ruth Allsopp
How gratifying it was to see a full house and hear the anticipatory buzz at the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, last Friday evening. The occasion was the opening night of the Fish Hoek Dramatic Society’s production of “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr and Reginald Denham, directed by Celia Musikanth.
The early 1950s movie, based on the play and re-named “All about Eve”, won many awards and earned Bette Davis, as the theatrical star Margo Crane, an Oscar.
In 1998, after the fire that destroyed the original Masque Theatre, Musikanth directed this play on a tiny church hall stage. She promised herself that one day she would do the play justice by presenting it on a ‘proper’ stage – which she has now done.
Her dedication to her dream is obvious in her careful casting and direction and in her keen eye for detail. All the actors were audible and had developed fine characterisations.
Julie Summers plays Margo Crane, an acclaimed actress of often difficult temperament. Margo is perhaps just past the height of her career at 45 years of age, but only admits to 35! Summers gives a tour de force performance, with superb variety of vocal and body expression. She effortlessly dominates the stage without going ‘over the top’.
The seemingly innocent Eve Harrington is played by Erica Schofield. Her voice tended to be a little inflexible in the first half, but gained more ‘colour’ later. A certain stiffness in her arms needs to be remedied. Overall, she succeeded in making the audience dislike Eve and applaud Margo’s fierce dismissal of her.
Margo’s closest friend Karen Roberts is the narrator linking the events of the plot. Kirsty Cunnington is most convincing in the role; she has a wonderful economy in her characterisation and wears her basic black costume, with varying coloured jackets and tops, with aplomb.
Brian Notcutt, as Margo’s husband and director Clement Howell, is warm and natural. The playwright Lloyd Roberts, Karen’s husband, is played by Nigel Stevenson, who started rather stiffly, but gradually relaxed into his part.
The smaller roles are well filled:
Aubrey Hindle, sympathetic as the perpetual understudy Jack Marshall;
David Muller as the stage manager Harvey, susceptible to Eve’s wily charms;
Faeron Wheeler as the young actress Vera Franklin, giving her audition pieces most convincingly;
Allison Blair, excelling as “Tally-Ho” Thompson, a prominent journalist, once again impressing with her clear articulation;
Erika Marais as Leila Blake, Margo’s loyal dresser, showing her obvious resentment of Eve through her facial expression.
The main stage was divided between Margo’s dressing room and the library of the Roberts’ country home. Other settings, such as the theatre rehearsal space and a TV studio, were played on the stage apron, left and right. Well executed lighting moved us from place to place. The women’s costumes were excellently chosen, especially those of Margo and Karen, which added theatrical glamour.
“The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr and Reginald Denham is an intriguing play and the audience on Friday night warmly appreciated the story and the fine acting. It deserves to attract capacity houses during its run.
“The Wisdom of Eve” is showing at the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, this week on Thursday and Friday at 8:00 pm, and on Saturday at 2:30 and 6:30 pm.
Book by phoning Masque Theatre Bookings or (021) 788 1898 or email Masque Theatre Bookings.
Related article: Lieske Bester's review of The Wisdom Of Eve