'Lady Windermere's Fan' is another one of Oscar's mistaken identity plays, a play of misunderstandings and untold truths and, as you'd expect, a satire on 'society'. We're in high society here and everyone in the play has a title of some sort, Lord this or Duchess that, other than the common (but quite nice) Australian with his kangaroos and odd accent but great wealth. And, of course, the servants (but they don't really count, do they?).
The play opens with Lady Windermere arranging some roses on the morning of her birthday party and mentioning that her husband has got her a new fan (I think I'd be upset if that's all I got). Then the Duchess of Berwick arrives to commiserate with the Lady that her husband is obviously having an affair with Mrs Erlynne who is the talk of society. Lord Windermere arrives home and insists that Mrs Erlynne is invited to his wife's birthday party that evening but can't explain why. O dear, why do people do this?
This production is great fun. I really liked the stripped back stage with it's bare floorboards in the shape of a fan, the few bits of furniture as props and the clean, light view we're offered. It works so much better than the traditional over-furnished Victorian drawing room. It gave the actors space to move, especially the ladies in their large frocks.
We are definitely in comedy territory here with lots of witty word play and laugh out loud moments. It's also very contemporary with the #MeToo moment except here it's th women letting their men off the hook to give them a break. It's directed excellently by Kathy Burke with a light touch and letting the writing tell the story.
As with the other play I've seen in this season we are given a musical interlude by the characters in the play between the acts and tis time we have the Duchess of Berwick singing with the collective servants of the household giving us a rude song. The Duchess came out between acts three and four to give is her ribald song about being touched on the bum - or 'fan' - with lots of sly looks at the ladies maid beside her as she got too enthusiastic with her instruments. I very much approve of these interludes.