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Written specifically for Maggie Smith, the late Peter Shaffer’s 1987 comedy hasn’t stood the test of time particularly well – though it does provide two more than decent roles for actresses of a certain age.

 It begins amusingly enough with a Groundhog-day style scene in a stately home where tour guide Lettice Douffet tells group after group of visitors about the very dull history of its wooden .staircase, embellishing her story each time she retells it with fictional additions and increasingly flamboyant dramatic flourishes. Her fabrications aren’t appreciated by her employers, the Preservation Trust, and their Lotte Schoen informs her that her services will no longer be required. 

It isn’t long, though, before the staid Lotte turns up at Lettice’s Earls Court basement flat with information about alternative employment and, over enormous goblets of lovage-laced “quaff” and a mutual dislike of modern architecture, a friendship is formed.

credit: Catherine Ashmore

Trevor Nunn’s production can’t paper over the cracks in an unconvincing storyline which goes on to involve historical re-enactment and a consequent charge of attempted murder which really doesn’t hold water. But Felicity Kendal has fun as the eccentric Lettice, living by her actress mother’s dictum of “Enlarge! Enliven! Enlighten!” and Maureen Lipman (who makes a funny drunk) goes a little deeper as Lotte, a woman who has missed out on life and sees the world getting uglier every minute until, unexpectedly,  it’s brightened up by her  floridly unconventional new friend.

Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU

Tube: London Bridge

Until 8th July 2017  

£40.00 plus £42.50 premier seats & £50.00 meal deals 


Theatre Review: Lettice & Lovage
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