The belatedly published book on which it’s based was written (in 1980) by Lady Caroline Blackwood, a wealthy alcoholic aristocrat who was married first to the painter Lucian Freud, then to a composer and finally to a poet.
Socialite, muse and author in her own right, she attempted to interview the by then reclusive and widowed Wallis Simpson for a Sunday paper profile.
Finding her attempts consistently foiled, Blackwood (Anna Chancellor) then turned her attention to the steely lawyer, Maître Suzanne Blum (herself not much younger than the ailing octogenarian Duchess) who guarded her client with a protective ferocity and viewed the woman responsible for the abdication through decidedly blinkered, rose-tinted glasses.
The play could do with a bit more substance, but to compensate Wright drops in snippets of tantalising biographical detail and Richard Eyre’s elegant production boasts performances to relish.
Sheila Hancock’s snobbish, controlling Blum (who is, Blackwood believes, is selling off the Duchess’s jewels for her own gain), John Heffernan’s Michael Bloch (her fey and rather charming assistant) and Angela Thorne’s Diana Mosley – neighbour, former intimate of the exiled royals, and here a hard-of-hearing hoot, despite her obnoxious pro-Nazi sympathies.
– Louise Kingsley
Until November 26
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