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Joseph provides a tour-de-force in must-see show



Review by David Munro

THIS is not going to be a long review. There is really only one word to describe this production of The Gingerbread Lady and that is superb.

It is one of the most satisfying evenings I have spent in the theatre for a long time. The plot is immaterial.

It concerns a night club singer, who is ostensibly a reformed alcoholic and who relapses, or does she - that is the question?

In Lesley Joseph’s fine, honed performance, it is almost an act of defiance against her environment and an attempt to assert herself.

But that really doesn’t matter, it is merely a peg for Lesley Joseph to give a performance that is funny, moving and a delight to watch. She doesn’t put a foot wrong and she plays the emotional stress of a woman whose life gets on top of her, to perfection.

She has a wealth of good one-liners, as one would expect in a Neil Simon play, but she absorbs and discards them so naturally that while one laughs, one accepts them as natural to the character and not delivered for effect.

She is well supported by a cast who seem made for their parts, and all of whom, in their own way, give as good performances as she does.

I was particularly struck by Sinead Keenan, as her long-suffering daughter, whose attempts in the final moments of the play to cope with a situation which had long overtaken her, was memorable.

But, at the end of the day, the play stands or falls with its central character and Lesley Joseph does not let the audience, or her author, down.

I could go on praising her but it would be boring. I would, therefore, just urge you to go and see this well directed, excellently acted play while you have the chance. You will regret it if you don’t.

The Gingerbread Lady, by Neil Simon. Director, Mark Clements; Designer, Philip Whitcomb; Lighting, Chris Ellis; Sound, Mike Beer.
CAST: Lesley Joseph; Jonathan Guy Lewis; Miranda Foster; Sinead Keenan; Bernay Molina; Vincent Patrick.
Producer – Theatre Royal Bath Productions.
Richmond Theatre, The Little Green, Richmond, Surrey. Mon, July 5 - Sat, July 10, 2004. Evenings: Mon – Sat, 7.45pm; Mat: Wed & Sat 2.30pm. Box Office: 020 8940 0088.

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