Arms and The Man at Lauderdale House, Review

Arms and The Man at Lauderdale House

Arms and The Man at Lauderdale House - Credit: Archant

A perfect summer evening saw a well acted performance of George Bernard Shaw’s romantic satire of war and social status

Arms and The Man at Lauderdale House picture by David Winskill

Arms and The Man at Lauderdale House picture by David Winskill - Credit: Archant

We were blessed with a perfect summer's evening for the eighth in Lauderdale House's Theatre on the Tea Lawn series.

Beautiful surroundings, a cracking play and a conveniently sited bar: heaven!

Arms and the Man is one of GB Shaw's early works. A witty, light romance streaked with satire on the folly and practice of war and the motivations of the buffoons who aspire to be the generals in braid and medals - in search of glory on the blood of those with little skin in the game and even less choice.

Set during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War, we are in the bedchamber of Raina Petkoff (an excellently sassy and determined Johanna Pearson-Farr) who is engaged to Sergius Saranoff.

A weary Serbian captain (Bluntschli) is hiding from the Bulgarians. Raina takes pity, they fall in love and he becomes her Chocolate Cream soldier.

The cast of seven (regulars at Lauderdale) were great fun. Lainey Shaw's bosomy, blustering Catherine and her stage husband Major Paul were a great end-of-the-pier act as arrivistes and social climbers - "We got an electric bell!".

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Raina's intended, Sergius (Derek Murphy) was played for laughs with strangled vowels and pompous affectation.

Scott Westoby captured the everyman soldier of Bluntschli in the tradition of Svejk and Yossarian.

His views on the roles of Austria and Russia in promoting the war resonate in today's combat hot-spots.

As house servant Nicola, Joe Sargeant delivered the lines with a cynical grasp of the reality of the war, his position in society and how to get advancement.

But the standout performance was Jessica Frances' knowing Louka.

Like Nicola she knows her place but resents it and so bides her time to get her man and become the served rather than the servant.

An excellent evening but an all too short a run.