How often do you encounter a couple that is eighty per cent compatible in their marriage? In Miles Malleson’s world, there is a high chance that you will, and it comes in the form of an open relationship. Tenderly comparing their espousal to a wedding ring that serves as the foundation for smaller rings attached to it, Anne (Laura Doddington) and Stephen (Guy Lewis) refuse to shy away from activities that would ensue social criticism in the 1930s.


Mint Theatre Company’s Yours Unfaithfully presents itself as a revived staging of Mallesons’s 1933 play which is brought to life at Jermyn Street Theatre. Staying true to its mission to resurrect “neglected plays from the past”, the theatre companies’ rendition of the show which is directed by Jonathan Bank, appears a refreshing alternative to Pinter or Rattigan. With its unapologetic portrayal of a world past, it lights the way for play revivals whilst paying homage to its creator.


However, Anne and Stephen’s story is not as far removed from the modern world as one would expect when entering the exuberantly and timely decorated space. Despite the antiquated tapestry and art-deco armchairs which add to the dated charm of the performance, the couples’ pursuits are closer to today’s times than their thoughtfully selected costumes.


Caught in a perfectly functional marriage containing a lot of love, Anne has come to think of her husband as under-stimulated. As they have done in the past she goes and encourages him to seek adventures beyond the four walls of their marital home. Before long, an old affair re-kindles between Stephen and the glamorous Diana which serves the exact purpose that the wife had hoped for: to inspire writers’ block-riddled Stephen to start a new novel. However, as human emotions go, jealousy follows not long after and will remain the central point of discussion within the couples’ love story.


The five actors deliver an amiable performance of Malleson’s surprisingly contemporary play. Providing an interesting viewpoint on the concept of marriage and the conflict that we as humans inherently carry within ourselves when it comes to the feeling of love. As a radiating performer, Doddington can’t help but overshadow the performances of her fellow actors with her surpassing portrayal of precisely that conflict. Jumping from one emotional exhibition to the next as her character is riddled with a whirlwind of emotions, Doddigton delivers a remarkable mise en scéne of masking one’s personality around friends and loved ones. Whilst one might root for the couples’ happiness, Doddington’s path of rediscovering herself in a marital construct that seems so ahead of its time becomes the heart of Yours Unfaithfully.


Contributing to the savoury and tame performance are Bank’s directorial decisions which remind of the civilised English theatre of the 1930s. What restrains the actors from taking their act to the next level are Malleson’s words which were written so many decades ago. The occasional disconnect between the actors and the words spoken draws back to the simple fact that times change and so does literature. However, love does not.  


It runs until 1st July.


Review: Shirley Both         Photo: Steve Gregson