When asked to review Clumber Players’ latest play The Lady’s Not for Burning I thought, where have I heard that before?
Through the mists of time I had a vision of Margaret Thatcher in full flow declaring “the lady’s not for turning.”
At the time I wondered why it had gained such applause, as it seemed to be a clever quote from something I knew nothing about.
Indeed, it came from a play she herself knew nothing about and, as her speech was written by her own speech writer at the time, one Ronald Millar, the inference had to be explained to her.
It comes as no surprise then to learn that Millar was himself an actor, writer and dramatist who was obviously well aware of the play written by Christopher Fry, which was first performed in 1948.
The play which featured such actors as John Gielgud, Richard Burton and a young Claire Bloom had success in London and on tour and then transferred to the US.
Central to the play is a difficult choice the female character Jennet has to make.
Should she allow herself to be burned as a witch or make a decision she knows to be morally wrong.
She decides against the latter and sticks to her resolve.
Back in 1980 at the Conservative conference Mrs. Thatcher was also sticking to her resolve in the face of rumours of a u-turn on her tough economic policies in difficult times. (Some things never change!)
It was this reference to the play that emphasized her determination not to waver.
Clumber Players’ version of The Lady’s Not For Burning, beautifully acted by it’s members, was a visual delight.
As the play is set in the year 1400 and features just one room they went to town on the costumes which suggests that someone has a lovely eye for detail.
All the actors in this play drew their characters with extreme care and attention and with the type of detail usually seen on screen.
I felt that, had you been able to zoom in on each actor’s performance, you would have witnessed real studies in character acting.
It was akin to an old oil painting coming to life.
This play, written in a style similar to that of a Shakespearean pastoral, with a touch of comic irony, was a breath of fresh air and, yes, it was rather cool later on in the evening, but as I warmed myself under a blanket, amidst the lovely surroundings, with an appreciative audience, watching such an entertaining performance, I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
For those wishing to tread the boards with Clumber Players please contact them via their website www.clumberplayers.org.uk