Travels With My Aunt (Reviewed at Salisbury Playhouse)
Graham Greene’s novel, Travels With My Aunt, first published in 1970 and described by its author as “the only book I have written just for the fun of it”, tells the story of Henry Pulling, recently retired bank manager, who has been persuaded by his feisty, seventy-five year-old Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral to leave his dahlia cultivation and accompany her on an extended journey of adventure, discovery and danger.
Giles Havergal, well-known opera and theatre director, has adapted it for the stage. Amanda Knott is the director.
It’s got to be a massive production, hasn’t it, involving numerous scene changes, with twenty characters and locations including Brighton, Paris, Istanbul and, finally, Paraguay?
So how are they to manage with only four actors and a single set consisting of a rather well-stocked bar? It’s a mystery.
The actors—Richard Earl, Jack Hulland, David Partridge and Katherine Senior—all appear as Aunt Augusta and Henry, helped by wearing identical costumes, while Katherine Senior takes on five other female roles, including the lovely seductive Yolanda who is passionate about English poetry.
As well as five other male roles, David Partridge’s portrayal of Aunt Augusta’s unlikely but constantly reappearing and devoted pot-smoking lover, Wordsworth from Sierra Leone, is a delight, as are Jack Hulland’s Irishman O’Toole and his Frau General Schmidt. Richard Earl’s Mr Visconti is comically evil as the swindler who firstly persuades Henry to join him in his nefarious ways before he comes to realise that his old, boring, dahlia-obsessed life actually had some value.
So many good things about this production, the gentle, non-intrusive, musical accompaniment enhancing the action without in any way diminishing the spoken words. And the dialogue, of course, with all the acerbic wit and wisdom we’ve come to expect from Graham Greene.
Review by Anne Hill
Travels With My Aunt
Tuesday 20 to Saturday 24 September 2016
Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Thurs & Sat Matinees 2pm
All Tickets £16.50 to £20.50
Friends of The Grand £5 off (Wednesday Night Only)
Schools £12.50 (Tuesday to Thursday)
Under 26s £12.50 (first 50 tickets, weekdays only; subject to availability)