Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Unusually for a play by Noel Coward, Love struggles while conquering All in "Easy Virtue," a subversive view of British country-house society between the wars. That era has been described as the most blessed in modern history (assuming you were Upstairs and not Down), but not here, where the Whittakers occupy a mouldering pile in the countryside. It is said that nothing in a country house should look new. Nothing in this one looks as if it were ever new.
To his ancestral seat, a fresh young man named John (Ben Barnes) brings his great love Larita (Jessica Biel) to meet his hostile mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), his shambling father (Colin Firth) and his unfortunate sisters Marion (Katherine Parkinson) and Hilda (Kimberley Nixon), one snobbish, the other fawning. Perhaps the innocent John never realized how toxic his mother and elder sister were until Larita arrived to attract their poison.
Larita is an auto racer, the recent winner of the Monaco Grand Prix. It's worth remembering that in the 1920s, racing drivers and pilots were admired almost like astronauts (see Shaw's "Man and Superman") are today, and females were goddesses.
Yet Larita, an American unschooled in the labyrinth of the British upper crust, earnestly hopes to make her alliance with John a success. She does everything that an American girl is taught to do, even supervising the preparation of what may be the first edible meal ever served in the stately home (recall that all-purpose 1920s Brit recipe: "Cook until dead").