The warmth and romance of Italy shines through even the coldest Norfolk night in this charming and funny adaptation of EM Forster’s novel of Edwardian social mores.
The action has been adjusted to focus more on chaperone Charlotte – played by Felicity Kendal – than the book’s driving character, Lucy, whose sensual awakening lies at the heart of the tale.
As such, Kendal is empowered to give the most rounded performance as the ageing, worrying, regretful spinster. The shifts means the other characters are less subtlety drawn: Lauren Coe and Tom Morley are well cast as the confused young couple, but need more stage time to properly develop their characters.
The direction plays for laughs rather more brazenly than Forster’s prose; Charlie Anson’s Cecil Vyse could almost do with a handlebar moustache to twirl. The bathing encounter that opens the second half is joyous, and considerably racier than you might be expecting. This might be a period comedy, but the ambience is happily modern.
This is a fine and thoroughly enjoyable performance, and a perfect foil for a pinching winter’s night.