Less Than Kind
York Theatre Royal
11-15 June 2013
Reviewed by Nicola Cook
On Tuesday, 11th June, I visited York Theatre Royal to see Less Than Kind. This is a romantic comedy, written by Terence Rattigan. The main characters were played by Sue Holderness, most famously known for playing Marlene in Only Fools and Horses and The Green, Green, Grass, and William Gaminara, who has had TV roles in Silent Witness, Spooks and Casualty.
The story focuses on the relationship between Olivia (Sue Holderness) and Sir John Fletcher (William Gaminara). Set in 1944, Sir John is a cabinet Minister and leading Canadian business man who is awaiting a divorce when the war is over from his younger socialite wife, Diana. He wants to marry widow Olivia, but this becomes more difficult when her 17 year old son, Michael (Charlie Hamblett) returns from Canada. Michael is an astute and politically ambitious young man who believes that after the war, working men will dominate the political landscape. Michael’s socialist views bring him at instant conflict with Sir John who has completely opposing views to Michael. He views Sir John as greedy commercialist who exploits the working man so that he can lead an extravagant lifestyle. It is clear however that Olivia and Sir John love each other very much and she pleads with her son to accept him; but ultimately she is faced with the decision of choosing between her lover and her son.
The three main actors performed together very well and they showed excellent timing, executing the plays cleverly scripted comedy. Although the play is certainly humorous, this did not distract from the thoughtful and well written plot which kept the audience gripped. Despite being written over 70 years ago, the play’s main themes of love and an aspiration for a more equal society are just as prevalent now.
The stage and costumes accurately reflected the 1940s war time period. At the beginning of the play, it reminds the audience of the tension and constant threat that the characters would be living under during that time, with air raid sirens and the distant sound of bombing.
When the play was first performed, over 50 years ago, it was received with poor reviews from critics and ended Rattigan’s career, however after watching this I cannot see why as it was such a comical and enjoyable play. I thoroughly enjoyed the romantic love story and humour and would recommend seeing this for a light-hearted evening of entertainment.
Tickets cost £10 – £22
For more information or to book tickets online click here.