'In this way I shall preserve many things that would otherwise be lost in oblivion. I shall find daily employment for myself, which will save me from indolence and help to keep off the spleen, and I shall lay up a store of entertainment for my after life.'

For James Boswell posts please follow the labels on the right.

This blog mainly contains reviews from the Edinburgh Festivals from 2008 to 2010 which I wrote for the Edinburgh Festivals Magazine. These reviews cover everything from comedy to contemporary dance; children's theatre to Handel.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Girl in the Yellow Dress Review

Girl in the Yellow Dress

We apparently do most of our communicating through body language. How we stand, sit or lie; where our eyes wander; what we do with our hands. All this reveals a great deal about us – far more than often restrictive and scripted verbal communication laced with half-truths or deceit.

Communicating presents a problem for English teacher Celia and French pupil Pierre. This is not restricted to grammar and vocabulary, however. Both characters quickly begin to explore the various tensions of racism, belonging and class – not to mention love, national identity and politics. Indeed, in some respects Higginson’s script could be criticised for trying to cram too many themes in too quickly. Yet, as the story develops, it becomes apparent that these various topics are merely elaborate constructions masking some simple, raw and primeval truths.

This feeling of physical tension is accentuated by the contrasting character portraits. On one side the upright and tightly strung porcelain figure of Celia could have stepped out of a Gainsborough portrait; she is composed, courteous and intersperses conversation with some curt smiles (or winces) and sharp glances. In apparent contrast is Pierre’s Gallic ease and relaxed air; seemingly assured and more comfortable in his own skin, at least in some respects.  

Oldham, especially, seems bred for her role and acutely captures (or is part of) the famously socially awkward English Patrician class, more used to governing colonies or leading regiments of cavalry.  

This is a dark play with many themes flowing through it. It is often intensely psychological as Celia especially fails to come to terms with or rationalise the physical realities which at root define her.

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