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A Dangerous Woman



Review by Paul Nelson

THE subject of A Dangerous Woman at the Jermyn Street Theatre is Wallis Simpson.

Looking dangerously like her, or a cross between her and the Wicked Queen in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jennifer Croxton, with either a cigarette or a large gin, gives a smashing performance as the jaded Older Duchess of Windsor. The Younger Duchess of Windsor, on the other hand, all bright-eyed and eager, if ultimately bored, is played with equal panache by Sinead O'Keefe.

Between the two of them the play gallops along, particularly in the second act, when the scheming Duchess makes outrageous claims that she arranged for the Luftwaffe to bomb Buck House, arranged to have Jackie Kennedy (little Miss Pill Box) killed but the hit man got John instead, and that she did unspeakable things with Richard Nixon.

All this makes a jolly evening go with a swing, and, ultimately, one gets the impression that Wallis Simpson, whatever else, in the end was loopy, something I can readily believe.

There is a mad and funny poke at Herr Hitler and Goebbels, and a long whinge about the fact that she really never was first lady, which she coveted, not only here in England, but in America.

Her hatred of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, is the cause of much merriment. 'Cookie', as she calls her, with her floury elbows, ruling the kingdom from behind the throne with an iron oven glove, comes out of the play as much more scheming than we ever had dared to think.

Naturally, Wallis Simpson would see her this way. Equally naturally, the truth that King George VI was never groomed to be King and needed an iron lady, comes across brilliantly. In fact, the two brothers both needed an iron lady, and the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) certainly got one in Wallis.

Denied the title of HRH, Wallis is depicted as a bitter woman but with a wicked sense of humour, and makes one regret one never met her. The recent disclosures of her alleged affair with the Welsh driver goes unmentioned, but the audience, drooling for scandal, left the theatre more than satisfied.

It is a worthy evening, full of humour and close to naughtiness, and provides both its leading ladies with a vehicle which they relish, and consequently, so do we.

A Dangerous Woman by Paul Webb, Directed and Designed by Pip Pickering, Costume Designer Francisco Rodriguez-Weil, Lighting Designer Phil S Hunter, Press Representatives KWPR (020 7721 7621), WITH: Jennifer Croxton (Older Duchess of Windsor), and Sinead O'Keefe (Younger Duchess of Windsor). Produced by Balcony at the Jermyn Street Theatre, 16B Jermyn Street, London SW1. Tickets 020 7287 2875.

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