Divertente, fond and forgiving: Alan Plater’s Peggy For You starts out as an amusing sketch, but quickly gains weight as Ramsay’s cruelty is exposed
Peggy For You
Hampstead Theatre, Londra Fino a gennaio 29 2hrs 30mins
For fans of plays about the theatre, this is an imaginary day in the working life of Peggy Ramsay, a much celebrated play agent who died in 1991. More than anyone, she helped turn the 1960s into a golden age for new playwriting.
She was passionate about new work, and her writer-clients would hear verdicts they might not have wanted. ‘It’s very well written but that’s possibly part of the problem,’ is among the one-liners she dispensed without fear or favour.
Peggy’s clients included Joe Orton, Alan Ayckbourn, Willy Russell, David Hare and also the late Alan Plater, whose funny, entertaining play this is.
Tamsin Greig (sopra) brings to the role her gorgeous voice, an effortless imperiousness and a trick of hitching up her skirts while gassing away
It was first performed 22 anni fa, with Maureen Lipman as the monstrous, eccentric agent in whose office eyrie it is set.
Tamsin Greig brings to the role her gorgeous voice, an effortless imperiousness and a trick of hitching up her skirts while gassing away.
Plater shows us a decidedly non-feminist agent who reckoned her male clients didn’t need wives as they can get drip-dry shirts, and who thought all Northerners are ‘born in a huff’ and lived in the same street.
What feels like an amusing sketch gains weight in the second half, when a note of cruelty is exposed. News of the (off-stage) suicide of a client evinces nil sympathy. Peggy sums up: ‘He was a writer, he burnt out, he stopped writing.’
Blimey, you think with a wintry chill, had she no heart? But Peggy’s view was that she represented the writer’s talent, not the writer.
This funny, fond and very forgiving play is directed by actor Richard Wilson (aka Victor Meldrew) and comes with a good cast.
Josh Finan is the raw writer recruit, Danusia Samal the long-suffering office secretary, and there’s superb work from Trevor Fox as the flat-cap Northern playwright who, out of frustration, finally abandons Peggy.
But not before she’s got him to lay her new office carpet.