Theatre Review: “Lyonesse” at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London
Star-Studded Cast, Yet a Lackluster Performance
Penelope Skinner’s new play, “Lyonesse,” opened in London’s West End with great anticipation, thanks to the presence of acclaimed actresses Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas.
However, while both stars shine in their roles, the play itself left me wanting.
Lily James, known for her roles in period dramas and her portrayal of Pamela Anderson in “Pam & Tommy,” is no stranger to the limelight.
Kristin Scott Thomas, celebrated for her posh and frosty characters, adds her star power to the mix.
However, the play itself falls short of matching the brilliance of its cast.
A Curious Tale
“Lyonesse” weaves a tale of a reclusive actress, Elaine Dailey (played by Scott Thomas), seeking a comeback after a 30-year retreat caused by a high-status stalker.
The narrative feels like a blend of “Sunset Boulevard” and “Absolutely Fabulous,” set in Cornwall.
Scott Thomas’s character draws parallels to Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond and Joanna Lumley’s Patsy, with a dash of Jennifer Saunders’ Eddie thrown in.
Lily James, on the other hand, plays Kate, a film executive sent to Cornwall to secure the rights to Elaine’s story.
She captivates as a thirtysomething mother juggling her career with post-natal depression, portraying the image of happiness and success.
Her interactions with Elaine form the heart of the play.
Absence of Laughter
Despite the star power and colorful characters, “Lyonesse” lacks humor and chaos.
Clocking in at three hours, the production demands more laughs and mayhem.
Instead, it earnestly addresses issues of sisterhood and rehashes the MeToo debate without offering fresh perspectives.
The play’s closest encounter with raucousness is a party scene, but it fails to inject liveliness into the narrative.
The humor is mostly replaced by a mission to promote sorority and revisit the MeToo movement, which doesn’t bring any new insights.
Sara Powell, portraying Elaine’s wholesome lesbian neighbor, offers sensibility, a chauffeur service, and poetry recitations.
James Corrigan, playing Kate’s husband Greg, attempts to break stereotypes.
The set designed by Georgia Lowe provides a damp and atmospheric backdrop, complete with black mold that, if real, would likely pose respiratory hazards.
In the Shadow of the Stars
While the cast and creative team have their moments of fun, Skinner’s play struggles to shine, leaving the audience yearning for more laughs and excitement.
In a star-studded production, “Lyonesse” falls short of its potential, offering a mixed experience for theatergoers.