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The Circle

Somerset Maugham

28 Nov - 5 Dec 2015

Graham Stapley


Performances

Sat 7:45pm, Mon 7:45pm, Tue 7:45pm, Wed 7:45pm, Thu 7:45pm, Fri 7:45pm, Sat 2:45pm, Sat 7:45pm

Synopsis

A period drawing room comedy dealing with the difficulties of love within marriage, with the pressures of society and with the triumph of character over circumstance. It was first performed at The Haymarket in 1921 with Fay Compton as Elizabeth and revived at the same theatre in 1945 with John Gielgud as Arnold and Yvonne Arnaud as Lady Champion-Cheney.

The action takes place over two days in the stately drawing room of Ashton Ashley, the furnishings of which attract more attention from the owner than he affords his beautiful young wife, Elizabeth. The marriage is failing after just three years. Elizabeth is bored and becomes fascinated with the elopement of her husband’s mother, Kitty, thirty years earlier, who chose to leave the status and strict conformity of her marriage to answer the call of love. Now Kitty is revisiting the house for the first time since her hasty departure with her lover, Lord Porteous. The characters of the two interlinking triangles of love are the plot and they retain their vitality today.

Director's Notes

W. Somerset Maugham wrote The Circle in 1921, a time of rebellion against the traditional taboos in society, while women were seeking the right of self-determination and liberation from the restrictions of their Victorian past.

The Circle is ostensibly a play about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of flouting social conventions for love. It is written with much craftsmanship and knowledge of the cruelty of both society and the human heart. It explores how history is often destined to repeat itself and there is a suggestion that the only lesson we learn from history is that we never learn the lessons of the past.

Contemporary critics considered it to be his finest play despite it being the first of his plays to be booed by the audience. It was, however a critical and financial success running for 181 performances in the Haymarket Theatre with a cast that included Fay Compton, Ernest Thesiger and Allan Aynesworth and enjoying West End revivals in 1931 and 1945.

The action takes place in a drawing room of a stately home, “the showpiece of the county”, the furnishings of which attract more pride and attention from the owner than he affords his wife after just three years of wedlock.

To create this vital setting we are very fortunate to have the expert artistic contribution from Michael Folkard.

Michael studied Interior Design but it was his love of the theatre that would provide his greatest fulfilment and a chance to design for Webber Douglas Academy of Drama in Central London, which helped to formulate a professional career. His passion for painting murals and trompe l’oeil was comfortably translated into a wide variety of scenic and interior work.

Elizabeth, played by Isabella McCarthy Sommerville, is distressed with the prospect of a loveless marriage. Her mother-in-law, played Jenny Lloyd Lyons, arrives for the first time since she eloped thirty years previously. This event combined with the amorous attention of a house guest is about to send Elizabeth’s head into a spin. The father-in-law played by Tony Bannister, is naturally keen to resist any fresh passionate impulse.

Cathryn Parker who led our initial rehearsals to transport us all into the period of the piece described the play as a seamless blend of romance and repartee, set in a time and society bound by conventions and restrictions unfamiliar to us today. The Circle she said “is about giving up everything that is conventionally acceptable to be the person you really are with the person you really love.”

The publicity, under the control of Mike Palmer, has been adorned by an original image researched and created by the artist and long standing member of L.L.T., Don Faulkner.

With a glittering cast, a magnificent set and the redoubtable Joanne Cull back stage, we look forward to presenting W. Somerset Maugham’s The Circle for your entertainment and delight.

Graham Stapley

Other Dates

Audition Sat 1 August 2015 10:30am foyer