I must admit to a little bias when approaching Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of The Way of the World since Penelope Keith’s Audrey fforbes-Hamilton is one of my favourite TV characters.
However, her Lady Wishfort is gloriously silly and a million miles from her formidable characters.
She is supported by a cast of uniformly intelligent performances, with Claire Price and Jeremy Swift standing out, the latter raising the biggest laughs of the evening with his portrayal of an embarrassingly drunk relative.
Congreve’s intricately plotted play, first performed in 1700, has many remarkably modern things to say about marriage. One of the funniest and arresting scenes of the evening was a deliciously cynical discussion between Mrs Millamant and her lover Mirabell about their rules of marriage, including ‘you shall always knock at the door before you come in.’
This was an amusing, but not riotously funny evening, with all the usual Restoration characters and confusions, the intricacies of the plot offset by the simplicity of the set - a backdrop of tarnished silver mirrors and chandeliers which set off the luscious, jewel-coloured costumes to perfection.