Falling In Love Again, King's Head Theatre - ★★★ - Until February 8, 2020

Photographer: Phil Swallow.

Before the Meghan and Harry 'scandal,' there was the shock of a royal who stepped back from the throne apparently for love. In 1936, the world was enthralled by and enjoyed arguing about the relationship of Edward VIII and his lover, Wallis Simpson. Depending on your point of view the abdication was a triumph of love or an abandonment of duty. This play focuses on the night before Edward's abdication when he is known to have met with Hollywood screen legend, Marlene Dietrich. Their conversation is not recorded but the play makes use of historical information about the two personalities to reconstruct what they might have discussed. Such facts as Dietrich's well-known distaste for the Nazis and Edward's fascination with Hitler are alluded to. The king's attraction to dominant women and Dietrich's femme fatale persona underlie the dynamics of the evening's interaction, and in this play Dietrich tries to seduce Edward and dissuade him from abdicating. The argument she makes is about the importance of duty over the achievement of perceived personal happiness, but we all know how that will end. In some ways that is the problem. Knowing Edward's decision robs the play of an obvious source of dramatic tension. Similarly, the writer's decision to stick closely to historical facts, such as Edward's lack of intellectual curiosity, also serves to sap a certain vitality from the duty/love discussion that might have been at the heart of the drama. Ashton Spear does an excellent job of capturing the speech patterns and persona of Edward with which we are familiar. Similarly Ramona von Pusch has down pat the Dietrich we know from the screen. The problem for us was that while it is quite possible to believe that the rather simple Edward was identical in private to his public persona, we know that Dietrich was an intellectual whose image was a conscious construct. It seemed rather odd to see her blatantly behaving in private as if she were the over-the-top vamp she played on stage. Still and all, this is a charming trip down memory lane and an entertaining way to keep today's royal 'scandal' in perspective.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until February 8, 2020
Tue - Sat: 7 pm, Sun: 3 pm, Sat Feb 8: 3 pm
King's Head Theatre
Nearest tube: Angel
https://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/falling-in-love-again/about-the-show

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