Hall for Cornwall
The delectable evergreen Felicity Kendal and multi-faceted one-man-band Simon Callow (pictured) are holding audiences in the palms of their hands this week at the Hall for Cornwall. And packing them in.
Their humour, philosophy and partnership waxed and waned like spring tides at full moon, spinning their double-handed magic with their considerable experience and skill.
Chin Chin – yes there was plenty of booze – was played like a duo sonata for laughter and romance, plus a little sardonic cruelty and sarcasm, as they let the lights and their tongues shine on the contrasts of unplighted mourned love. It soared over the barometer with its unexpected and sudden swings in emotion.
Simon as Cesareo Grimaldi and Felicity as Pamela Pusey-Picq – each one having worked and waited so hard and long to sustain their former partners – squeezed out the fun and pathos in turn. No victor nor vanquished, yet often triumphant and excited, they weaved around the maze of love and life, unfaithfulness and downright outrage... all mixed and stirred.
The characters, whose partners had mutually gone astray, blended and clashed like glittering castanets, now fiery, now sparkling and bubbling, always with that clever edge of muted jubilance and merry fireworks. In Pamela, the wronged English (almost) rose and Cesareo, the dumped Italian, there was a powerful contrast. He thundered and persuaded while she called and croaked, shrieked and whispered desperately, stamping her pretty legs and feet in hysterical fury!
Joshua Dickenson was Pamela's anguished son, Bobby, going through as many circles of torment and pangs of conscience as his mum, with other parts played by Barrie Palmer, Sonia Saville and Sam Jones.
Produced by Bill Kenwright, it was directed by Michael Rudman with Michael Taylor in charge of set and costume design. The stagework was a bonus with scenes as swift-changing as the moods, from tea room to Orly airport, a nursing home, apartment, cheap apartment and office.
Written by Francois Billetdoux (even a smile in the name), this bitter sweet comedy – and often farce – was set in the 1950s and given its premiere in a Montparnasse theatre, where it ran for a year with the playwright in the lead. It was adored by leading London critics as clever, impacable and startling – and so it remains.
Chin Chin continues at the Hall for Cornwall tonight at 7.30pm and tomorrow at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.