Sunday, 11 February 2018

REVIEW: Cyril's Success at the Finborough Theatre

Last night was my first time at the historic Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court and I loved it! The evening was a real escape, especially thanks to the production of Cyril’s Success by Henry J. Byron, produced for the first time in London in 128 years. It is produced in the context of FINBOROUGH150, which marks 150 years of the building. This year, they are only staging plays from 1868. 

The theatre prides itself on staging new work as well as work that has not been staged for a long time, and the result is refreshing.

Cyril’s Success is the story of Cyril Cuthbert, a writer who has found fame within the circle of theatre managers, critics and actors. His wife is growing jealous of his success, mostly because it means it takes him away from her. On the evening of their wedding anniversary, as Cyril makes very clear that he has completely forgotten the date and goes out to mingle with his peers, she finds a letter and mistakes it for a letter from a mistress. What follows are confusions about relationships and a series of farcical quid pro quos involving ex-spouses, lovers and action behind closed doors in a semi-autobiographical satire about Byron’s trials and joys of marriage and of a life in the theatre. In the end, what is success without a partner to share it with?

The set design by Daisy Blower is a warm drawing room full of warmth and comfort. Supported by lighting by Gregory Jordan, we are transported. The detailed costumes and their rich textures are a great addition to the atmosphere and help the actors to truly step into their characters from this mid-Victorian era. The different age groups on stage are also very refreshing, showing love can be found at all ages. 

The actors work very well together, responding with poise and humour to each other, and filling the space with their strong spoken or singing voices, in the case of Isabella Marshall. She shows a lot of grace and strength as Mrs Cuthbert. Allegra Marland as Mrs Bliss is also a strong member of the ensemble. Susan Tracy adds strong humour through her facial and physical expressions as Miss Grannet, who has been separated from Mr Pincher (played by a very strong and confident Stephen Rashbrook) for twenty-two years. Tim Gibson as Cyril somehow reminded me of Tom Hanks, and I especially enjoyed his performance at the beginning, when he was swimming in his newly found bliss. 

Director Hannah Boland Moore leads her actors and their energy with precision,
bringing out a humour that never goes over the top, and creating a confident performance that could easily transfer to larger stages.

This fresh new show is presented by Lauren King for Marooned Theatre in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, stimulating the audience’s brain and taking it back to the era when growing populations in England required more entertainment and the burgeoning of the West End, with new theatre companies and playwrights emerging. A great cultural moment!

Review by Sophie Tergeist 

Rating: ★★★★
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