Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Corn is Green @ Lyttelton Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Corn is Green at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Emlyn Williams’s play about one woman’s mission to bring (English) education to a Welsh mining village was written in 1938. Like many plays since; Educating Rita, Billy Elliot, Goodbye Mr Chips, Good Will Hunting, The King and I etc. etc. etc. the play glorifies the inspirational teacher / saviour who plucks the gifted child out of their otherwise down-trodden life. Semi-autobiographical in nature, as much of these sorts of plays are, and steeped in sentimentality they hard not to like.

And indeed, director Dominic Cooke's revival reframes (deconstructs?) the play in a very likeable way. Gareth David-Lloyd (yes, him off of Torchwood) plays Emlyn Williams who with the aid of a typewriter creates the story from an empty stage. He conjures into existence a school house (not fully realised until the Act II), and populates it with his cast.

Our young Welsh hero Morgan Evans (the great Iwan Davies) is soon plucked out of the filthy mines by bossy but well-meaning schoolteacher Miss Moffat (played by the ever-excellent Nicola Walker). The action is accompanied throughout by a group of singing Welsh miners (as our omnipresent Greek chorus), a pantomime baddy The Squire (a cartoony Rufus Wright) and a spanner in the works by the name of Bessie Watty (the marvellous Saffron Coomber).

Miss Moffet wants our young man to go to Oxford. To become a toff. She teaches him Latin and Greek. Will little Miss Moffet educate her toffette? Or will Bessie get the bestie of him?

All comes good in the end. Or does it? The play’s resolution is far from satisfactory and we are acutely aware of the nature of the unreliable narrator.

An OK play but not a must-see.

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