University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
The Little Theatre
Until 14 Oct 2017

Review by Janice Bailey

It is always a pleasure to visit the Little Theatre to see a show presented by the University of Adelaide’s Theatre Guild. Their current production of Peter Schaffer’s “Lettice and Lovage” is yet another delight. Peter Schaffer is better known for his turbulent dramas “Equus” and “Amadeus,” but years later he wrote a comedy, “Lettice and Lovage,” with the indefatigable Dame Maggie Smith in mind.

Lettice is a tour guide, for the Fustian House in Wiltshire, England, a 16th-century manor house. It’s a dull and dreary historical landmark that prompts Lettice to embellish the rote informational monologue that emphatically bores her group of tourists. Her initial mundane description of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Fustian House transposes into an ever escalating romantic and heroic dissertation born from the creative recesses of her own mind. John Faustian saving the queen from falling down the “Staircase of Ennoblement,” and nobility feasting on egg-yolk glazed hedgehogs. Suddenly her tourists are enraptured by her ‘doubtful’ storytelling.

As she theatrically embellishes the house’s historical past, she is ultimately noticed by Lotte Schoen, an inspector from the Preservation Trust. Neither impressed or entertained by Lettice's freewheeling history lessons, Schoen fires her. Not one however, to go without a fight, Lettice engages the stoic, conventional Lotte in a battle to the death of all that is sacred to the Empire and the crown. After tossing back a few drinks in Lettice’s basement apartment, the emotionally starchy Lotte loosens up to the fact she has more in common with Lettice than she thought. Over the homemade brew – lovage – they share, they realize they have a mutual passion for English history and architecture.

Director Angela Short has assembled an excellent cast and without exception they do Shaffer’s play justice. Tracey Walker is superbly delightful as Miss Lettice Douffet while Sharon Malujlo as Miss Charlotte Schoen provides a perfect foil for the theatrical Douffet.

The experienced ensemble of Rose Harvey, Nathan Lobo, Jack Robins, Jason Sardinha and Anthony Vawser play several roles with understanding and flair.

While the first half tends to drag somewhat, the pace picks up in the second act and is maintained until the end, providing some hilarious moments.