Review by David Munro
FATALE sets out to chart the course of destruction by
a selfish, wilful woman, Victoria Langham (played by Kylie Cushman),
and its effect on her immediate circle of friends and acquaintances.
These are allegedly an artistic and intellectual set based on
the Bloomsbury clique of the 1920s and 30s; the lesbian author,
Max Werner (Melissa Ashworth); the dilettante female painter,
Charlotte (Elizabeth Boag); the composer, Frances Cobb Anthony
(Vanessa Goodliffe); the aristocratic poet, Edward Langham, brother
of Victoria (William Kempsell), and the unsuccessful playwright,
Sam Rhodes (Richard Langdon).
The action mainly takes place in Vanburgh, the country seat of
Edward Langham, and includes lesbianism, incest and an aborted
game of Russian roulette, interspersed with the odd song and dance.
There are two comic maids, Kate (Helena Semple) and Alice (Harriet
Holmes), together with Staunton, the butler, (John Atterbury),
Mrs Hoskins, the housekeeper - Ros Liddiard and Ellen, the confidante
and ex-mistress of the Langham's father, Annette Roache to complete
In addition, there are the hangers on, Ben Sleep, as Henry Cameron,
Victoria's spurned lover; Annie Julian, as Alex Spears, a quasi-intellectual
who longs to be one of the crowd, and Jackie Skarvellis, as Sophia,
the family seamstress.
While this all sounds like the basis for an old fashioned melodrama,
it is merely a vehicle to allow Mark Atrill, the author and director,
to give his cast every opportunity to display their talents.
Each has a monologue which deals with various aspects of life
as the character sees it, inspired by his or her contact with
Victoria - irritatingly referred to throughout as "V".
There are ensembles where they dance or address the audience,
portray a pack of dogs and on occasion, one or other bursts into
a popular or folk song, which gives the impression you are attending
the end of term production of a drama school.
And, in a sense, one is, as the production company, Bridge, sets
out to train young people as actors and to mount productions which
combine them with more experienced actors.
Has this succeeded in Fatale? In my view, it has.
Accepting the somewhat unbelievable plot as merely being a peg
on which to hang scenes to exploit their training, this production
works well. All the cast justify the chance they have been given
and Richard Langdon, William Kempshall, Ben Sleep and Elizabeth
Boag will, I feel sure, be heard of again.
That is not to denigrate the others in this very talented and
hardworking cast, who work extremely well together, and make the
most of their individual scenes, so that, by the end of the evening
I, at least, felt that it was a well worthwhile experience and
that the rationale for it was fully justified.
Fatale by Mark Atrill. Directed by Mark Atrill. Designer Judith
Pollard, Choreographer Francesca Jaynes, Lighting by Rod Fricker,
Sound designer Simon Gillman, Original Music by John White &
Andrew Crookhall. WITH: Melissa Ashforth, John Atterbury, Elizabeth
Boag, Kylie Cushman, Vanessa Goodliffe, Harriet Holmes, Annie
Julian, William Kempsell, Richard Langdon, Antony Law, Ros Liddiard,
Annette Roche, Helena Semple, Jackie Skarvellis and Ben Sleep.
Produced by. The Bridge, at The Bridewell Theatre, Bride Lane,
Off Fleet Street, London EC4. Tickets 020 7936 3456.