The Voice of the Turtle ★★★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | Jun 27 - Jul 20, 2024

The ingredients of a soufflé are simple and few, but to achieve the desired outcome is no easy feat. Playwright John Van Druten's confection is light and lovely, but it doesn't really compare to the work of a master like Noël Coward. First staged in 1947, The Voice of the Turtle, tells the story of Sally Middleton who finds herself with an unexpected houseguest when her best friend, Olive, dumps her GI date for a better offer. Sally is coming off a failed relationship and isn't looking for love. She has already had two affairs, and she doesn't want to be considered promiscuous! Like Sally, her surprise guest is also on the rebound from a from a failed relationship. Indeed, up to this point, he has only been interested in casual liaisons such as that he enjoyed with Olive. So, neither of them is looking for love, plus any flirtation could cause complications with her best friend and with his sometimes sweetheart. Well, we all know how this is going to end, but the fun is in getting there. Van Druten has written some good lines, and there is also some unintentional amusement with our glimpses into the sexual mores and gender roles of the period. However for us, the banter didn't really sparkle, and the plot seemed a little flat. The three principals, Imogen Elliott as Sally, Skye Hallam as Olive and Nathan Ives-Moiba as Bill, all do a fine job, but for lovers of the genre and aficionados of the Hollywood films of the era, they have some rather challenging role models to try to live up to. Anett Black's costumes were a beautiful evocation of the period, and with his set, Ruari Murchison demonstrates great use of the venue's limited space. The Voice of the Turtle is a thoroughly pleasant production that is more likely to engender smiles than laughter. Somewhat insubstantial, it is sweet without being cloying – perhaps, the perfect after for a heavy, overfilled day.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Steve Gregson

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