All around the world
Theatre review by Henry Ascoli
Travels with my Aunt, Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Wonderfully witty, wildly eccentric and quintessentially British, this fast-paced comedy delivers entertainment in spades.
Travels with my Aunt takes us on a breathless dash around the world, seen through the eyes of retired bank manager Henry Pulling, whose comfortable suburban life is turned upside down by the appearance of his rebellious Aunt Augusta.
After persuading him to abandon his dahlias and travel with her to Brighton, Paris, Istanbul and across the world to Paraguay, Henry suddenly finds himself immersed in a dubious world of pot smoking hippies, war criminals, men from the CIA and hard core art smugglers.
By swapping comfortable Southwood for shady South America, Henry ultimately puts his dull and drab existence in the shade and finds freedom in the most unlikely manner, while learning some valuable lessons and uncomfortable home truths along the way…
Through superb staging and masterful interaction within the cast, the four actors tackle more than 20 characters between them, managing a wealth of dialogue with consummate ease in a production which uses the intimate atmosphere of the theatre to great effect.
Each of them revel in the role of Aunt Augusta, a formidable woman defined by her voracious sexual appetite and complete lack of moral consciousness. While Augusta steals much of the limelight, we are also introduced to the fiercely loyal Wordsworth, the devious Mr Vincente and many more memorable characters along the way.
The set, depicting an old-fashioned bar, is used to great effect in every sense, the cast perching on bar stools, disappearing behind the bar and utilising an array of props to portray some colourful characters.
Yet in truth, the success of this show depends not upon a single lead role, but the power of the collective; Richard Earl, David Partridge, Jack Hulland and Katherine Senior demonstrate great stage presence and relentless energy throughout.
Pioneering theatre this is not, but Travels with my Aunt proves both quaint and endearing – a highly enjoyable and light-hearted evening of entertainment.
Travels with my Aunt runs at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday 23rd April. To book tickets and find out more, call 01483 440000 or visit www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk