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Fan-tastic - Lady Windermere's Fan at the Exchange
IT would be easy to criticise the Royal Exchange Theatre and say deciding to stage Lady Windermere’s Fan is a classic case of playing it safe.
While the play is hardly cutting edge - it received its Broadway premiere in 1893 - it is a brilliantly constructed piece of writing. Some of Oscar Wilde’s lines are devastatingly witty and others are brimming with wisdom.
What a fantastic dinner guest Wilde would have been, although I imagine most of the other guests would have been far more interested in devouring his conversation rather than what was on their plates.
Lady Windermere assumes her husband is having an affair when she finds payments to a mystery woman in his bank book. Naturally, she’s even more outraged when her spouse asks her to invite the woman in question to one of her swanky society parties. But that’s far more to Mrs Erlynne than meets the eye - she’s a woman with a past and a secret that, if revealed, could turn her Ladyship’s world upside down.
The pace in Greg Hersov’s production is perfect and not a word of Wilde’s wonderful script is wasted. If that’s not enough for you, there are fine performances to enjoy, particularly from Laura Rees as Lady Windermere and Lysette Anthony as the enigmatic Mrs Erlynne. Highbrow, no, highly recommended, yes.
* Until June 23. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****