Plot: Raised in a manor house beside the sea, where the flowers struggle to grow, sixteen-year-old Laurel (Felicity Jones) runs wild. As her eccentric grandmother (Margaret Tyzack) tends to the garden, Laurel’s need for love forces her into a world of fantasy. But things begin to change with the sudden appointment of a governess (Penelope Wilton) who brings a mysterious new presence to an already dysfunctional household.
The last time I was at the Donmar was spring last year when I saw Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman which also starred Penelope Wilton who was brilliant as Ella Rentheim, Borkman’s erstwhile lover. I fell in love with Miss Wilton then and I have seen a lot of her in films and telly and totally loved her playing the role of Harriet Jones in Doctor Who. So when the Donmar announced their productions for this year, I have booked The Chalk Garden a good few months ahead and I am pleased having done so as the production have already sold out way early since critics have given it very good praises indeed. The West End Whingers, whose blog I religiously follow claims that it’s one of the best productions they have seen this year, and I only have to agree.
Who said that there is not enough good roles for older women to play, whether in film or in theatre? Here’s an example of a play that celebrates just that, and to have talented actresses playing equally interesting characters, Wilton’s Miss Madrigal and Margaret Tyzack‘s Mrs St Maugham you are promised a very entertaining evening of brilliant acting and witty dialogues. I’d say let’s have more of Enid Bagnold please!
The Chalk Garden: 4/5