Monday, 15 October 2018

Profumo wife’s tale shackled by history

“SEXUAL intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three / (which was rather late for me)

“SEXUAL intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three / (which was rather late for me) / Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban / And the Beatles’ first LP.”

Though Larkin doesn’t say so, 1963 was also the year of the Profumo affair, which led to the resignation of the then secretary of state for war.

The scandal, which centred on John Profumo’s affair with the 19-year-old Christine Keeler, was exacerbated by the fact that she was also sleeping with Captain Yevgeny Ivanov, a Russian naval attaché. At the height of the Cold War.

The newspapers tore into the story. For months flashbulbs popped whenever Profumo and his wife, the former film star Valerie Hobson, set foot outside. “Is this what they mean by the white heat of technology?” she asks at one point.

It was only when the disgraced former minister began cleaning toilets at East End charity Toynbee Hall that his long, slow, public rehabilitation could begin.

Which left his wife where? At home, mostly, with a packet of cigarettes and her journal for company.

After years of maintaining a diplomatic silence in real life, the selling point of

Valerie Hobson

is that, courtesy of playwright Max Tiarks and West End luminary Liz Robertson, the wronged wife at last gets to have her say.

Your reviewer is a big fan of one-character plays. One of the best things I’ve ever seen in the theatre was a heart-stopping production of Willy Russell’s

Shirley Valentine

But Russell wasn’t shackled by history and biography. His leading lady could say what she liked, how she liked.

Liz Robertson’s performance at the Kenton could not be faulted. She is a star. Nor, truthfully, could the material â?? provided you were a Profumo aficionado.

As theatre, though, I’m sorry to say

Valerie Hobson
felt a little too measured. Even a bit lacking in story.

Valerie has a go at Keeler, sure, but ends up blaming herself for all manner of things to do with her marriage.

Perhaps she’s right to â?? but her words to that effect didn’t add up to much in the way of a dramatic payoff.

Review: Matthew Wilson

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