The Irish Repertory Theatre
Charlotte Moore, Artistic Director – Ciarán O’Reilly, Producing Director
AFTER THE BALL
By NOËL COWARD
Based on OSCAR WILDE’S
LADY WINDEMERE’S FAN
Edited from the original version and with additional material
By BARRY DAY
The Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 W. 22 St., NYC
Opening Night: December 16, 2004
Directed and Designed by TONY WALTON
Musical Direction by MARK HARTMAN
Choreography by LISA SHRIVER
Lighting Design BRIAN NASON
Hair Design ROBERT-CHARLES VALLANCE
Dialect Coach STEPHEN GABIS
Production Stage Manager KELLY HANSON
Press Representative SHIRLEY HERZ ASSOCIATES
Duchess of Berwick – Kathleen Widdoes
Mrs. Erlynne - Mary Illes
Lady Windermere – Kristin Huxhold
Lord Windermere – Paul Carlin
Lord Darlington – David Staller
Lady Agatha – Collette Simmons
Mr. Hopper – Greg Mills
Mr. Dumby – Josh Grisetti
Lord Augustus – Drew Eshelman
Lady Plymdale – Elizabeth Inghram
AFTER THE BALL is set in 1899 London, but aside from establishing dress and the social graces of the time, the plot is essentially timeless. Translation, if you have seen any theater at all, you have seen this all before, though perhaps without the musical numbers. At least as presented by The Irish Rep. the play is prettily framed, even with the limited staging area.
To the specifics of this play, we find that the rumormongers have informed Lady Windermere that her husband is paying inordinate attention to and sums of money on an infamous woman called Mrs. Erlynne. Of course, he is, but for reasons yet to be revealed. In the heat of confrontation, her Lordship insists that the woman in question be invited to his Ladyship’s birthday party. This heats things up, and AFTER THE BALL begins to get juicy when Lady Windermere runs off to see a suitor, Lord Darlington, only to have her fan discovered in his home. Have no fear, though. In the end it all works out nicely.
My biggest complaint about AFTER THE BALL is that, after the audience is clued into the real relationship between Lord Windermere and Mrs. Erlynne, the story loses credibility. Mrs. Erlynne knows a secret about Lady Windermere. It is the type of secret that should have been revealed rather easily within Windermere social circles, but no one seems to know anything more about Mrs. Erlynne than heated gossip. Perhaps the blanks were filled in through a rhymed couplet offered by our narrator, the Duchess of Berwick, but if so, that bit of detail slipped by me completely.
In the end, AFTER THE BALL is a frilly serving of theatrical staples. Significant as the product of the virtual partnership of giants Oscar Wilde and Noёl Coward, and for the fact that this production marks the American premiere of the play, I offer this one to theater buffs on those merits especially.
- Kessa De Santis -