REVIEW: Mrs Pat at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester

As Mrs Patrick Campbell, who originated the role of Eliza Doolittle onstage, Penelope Keith was quick witted and opinionated, often to comic effect. Picture: Catherine Ashmore
As Mrs Patrick Campbell, who originated the role of Eliza Doolittle onstage, Penelope Keith was quick witted and opinionated, often to comic effect. Picture: Catherine Ashmore
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  • Mrs Pat is at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester until November 7
  • Tickets: from £20, visit cft.org.uk for more details
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One great actress played another when Dame Penelope Keith took to the stage as Mrs Patrick Campbell, known affectionately as Mrs Pat, in the one-woman show of the same name.

Set at Toulouse Station in 1940, the actress whiles away the hours spent waiting for a train to escape the Nazis by reflecting on her career, her loves – and her many pet peeves.

Penelope Keith was joined onstage by Mrs Pat's canine companion Moonbeam, rendered in puppet form. Picture: Catherine Ashmore

Penelope Keith was joined onstage by Mrs Pat's canine companion Moonbeam, rendered in puppet form. Picture: Catherine Ashmore

With her comic pedigree, Keith is the perfect actress to bring such a sharp-tongued and opinionated character to life. There was more than a bit of Margo Leadbetter in her withering put-downs, which were well received.

Penelope had expressed her desire for the performance to be held in the smaller, 283-seat theatre rather than its 1,200 capacity neighbour, and it was all the better for it. When she addressed the audience, it felt like we were sat on the platform next to her.

It was a shame, however, that she briefly lost her way in the first half, requiring a prompt.

While not an excuse, it did highlight the sheer quantity of lines she had to learn – the majority of which were delivered with a conviction the late Mrs Pat would have appreciated.

There was more than a bit of Margo Leadbetter in her withering put-downs