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Previewed 7 May 2003, Opened 20 May 2003, Closed 13 September 2003 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
A major revival of Luigi Pirandello's comedy Absolutely! (perhaps) in London in a new version by Martin Sherman starring Dame Joan Plowright and Oliver Ford Davies and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
This dreamlike and hilarious play will leave you wondering whether to trust your own eyes. There are enigmatic newcomers in town: the dark, intense, Ponza, his shy, rather eccentric mother-in-law Signora Frola; and his reclusive young wife. No one understands their bizarre living arrangements. Everyone has a different theory as to the truth - and no one will countenance any other explanation. No one, that is, except for the wry and elegant Laudisi. He mischievously offers to establish the truth - and takes delight in his neighbours' growing frustration as they watch: "fantasy and reality dancing together, rather gracefully in fact - and suddenly you can't tell the difference between them".
The cast for Absolutely! (perhaps) in London features Joan Plowright as 'Signora Frola' and Oliver Ford Davies as 'Laudisi' along with Anna Carteret, Darrell D'Silva, Gawn Grainger, Barry Stanton, Liza Tarbuck and Jeffry Wickham with Timothy Bateson, Brid Brennan, Sian Brooke, Fred Ridgeway, Alice Selwyn and Lolly Susi. Luigi Pirandello's Cosi e (se vi pare!) in a new version by Martin Sherman, it is directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli with costumes by Raimonda Gaetani and lighting by Andrew Bridge. Martin Sherman's West End plays include Bent, When She Danced and Onassis.
This production reunites the incredibly successful partnership of Franco Zeffirelli and Joan Plowright. They have worked together in both film and theatre, including the seminal production of Saturday, Sunday, Monday which co-starred Laurence Olivier and Filumena Arturano, for which Plowright won the Society of West End Theatre Best Actress Award, both at the National Theatre. Amongst their films are Jane Eyre and Tea with Mussolini, which also starred Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Cher.
"Dame Joan Plowright, Liza Tarbuck (strange combination - but it worked) and Oliver Ford Davies combined with a first class cast to deliver an evening of excellent theatre... Signora Frola (Joan Plowright) insists her beloved daughter-in-law is banned from talking to her because of her husband's demands. Signor Ponza (Darrell D'Silva), the husband, seeks to establish his first missus is dead and her mum is mad. Who is right and who is wrong? Thereby hangs the tale. In the end we are left with the intriguing proposition that no-one in Luigi Pirandello's play is right and no-one is wrong." The Daily Mirror
"Franco Zeffirelli's production has the two essential qualities of all Pirandello's best plays: a masterful, almost slick theatricality and a bitter, almost nihilistic view of human relations... This is a hard, brilliant, elegant production, studded with glittering cameos. Joan Plowright gives a haunting, beautifully muted performance as the old lady who may or may not be insane... Observe Anna Carteret, Gawn Grainger and Jeffry Wickham for high-precision Italian body language. This is a play of dark intellectual magic... You must see this." The Sunday Times
"Plays by Luigi Pirandello are always brainteasers, and Absolutely! (Perhaps), Martin Sherman's sparkling new version of the Italian's 1917 work, concerns itself with typical Pirandellian preoccupations: truth, illusion and delusion; the impossibility of ever knowing anything for certain; and our insatiable curiosity about other people's lives. But, as well as teasing the brain, this play tugs at the heartstrings... I can't imagine a better production than this one by renowned film director Franco Zeffirelli. He manages to create an Italian flavour without a single 'mamma mia' and makes rather abstract, indigestible, philosophical stuff not only real and absorbing but funny and moving. Oliver Ford Davies, as semidetached neighbour Laudisi, oversees proceedings like a brilliant but barmy philosopher-judge, highly amused by the bafflement of everyone else... But it is Joan Plowright as the dignified widow, ashen-faced and very still, clinging to the wreckage of her shattered life, who provides the piece with a heartbeat, which compels attention. Very refreshing, very unusual West End fare." The Mail on Sunday
Franco Zeffirelli is one of the best-known directors in the world, whose work has encompassed film, theatre and opera. In cinema his name is linked with such international successes as The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet with Mel Gibson and Glenn Close. His British theatre work includes Romeo and Juliet which launched the career of the young Judi Dench and Much Ado About Nothing with Maggie Smith and Albert Finney. Zeffirelli's opera productions in the major theatres of the world are countless. His most memorable productions include Aida and La Boheme at La Scala in Milan, Tosca, Turandot and La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Carmen at the Arena di Verona.
Absolutely! (perhaps) in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 7 May 2003, opened on 20 May 2003 and closed on 13 September 2003.