Lettice and Lovage, Homage to Maggie Smith

By Judy Newell

“I did set out, from the start, to write a play for her, to celebrate her extraordinary gifts of glee and glitter and perfect timing and wit, above all, wit.”Peter Shaffer

Theater
Lettice and Lovage
Tue‒Thu, Aug 16‒18, 5pm
Fri and Sat, Aug 19 and 20, 7:30pm
Sun, Aug 21, 3pm
San Miguel Playhouse
Av. Independencia 82
200 pesos

Imagine that you are an actor. Now imagine what it would be like to walk into the office of one of the most respected playwrights of this century and persuade him to write a play just for you—a play specifically designed to showcase your gestures, your sense of timing, your capacity to capture the sympathy and imagination of an audience.

That is just what Dame Maggie Smith did. And the resulting play, Lettice and Lovage, is in all ways the epitome of the dry British wit, timing, and charm that we have come to associate with the characters she has played over the years.

In an interview four years ago, Peter Shaffer (recently-deceased playwright of Equus and Amadeus) tells the story of how Maggie Smith approached him with the suggestion that he write a “long play for a woman.”

Shaffer recalls her lamenting the lack of meaningful roles available for older women actors and quotes her as saying, “What’s in it for me now, nothing but freaks, Lady Wishfort or something like that, Lady Bracknell.”

Upon reflection, Shaffer admits, he realized how few plays featuring women over the age of 50 had been written by British playwrights and determined that he would create a role equal to Smith’s talents.

Lettice and Lovage is a comedic character play with a message beyond the purely personal. It deals with issues of beauty and loss in the urban landscape, the impotence of the individual to halt the progressive dehumanization of the world and, finally, the means by which one can both light a candle and curse the darkness.

Lettice and Lovage opens at the San Miguel Playhouse on Tuesday, August 16, at 5pm. The Playhouse is offering special early showings for Lettice: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, August 16‒18, at 5pm. OnFriday and Saturday, August 19‒20, showings will be at 7:30pm, and there will be a Sunday, August 21 matinee performance at 3pm.

Featuring Phoebe Greyson as Lettice (you may still think of her as Miss Poppenghul), the play co-stars Maggie Bunce as Lotte, Lou Barranti as Bardolph, and Reesha Browning as Miss Framer. Jim Newell directs.

Tickets are 200 pesos and are available at Galería Ensueños, Mesones 57A at the corner of Relox, from 10:30am to 2pm daily except Tuesdays, and at the Playhouse one hour before show time.

The San Miguel Playhouse is located at Av. Independencia 82. There is free secure parking, a taxi concierge, and all seats are reserved. The Playhouse is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Come early for a glass of wine at the bar.

 

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