This production is a Stage Must-See

The Girls of Slender Means

The Assembly Rooms

Theatre Reviewed by Thom Dibdin

Muriel Spark’s favourite of her own novels is slender in many ways but not its meanings. Judith Adams' adaptation is light in touch but finds enough to highlight a path through the narrative which, while not all encompassing, does the novel no disservice.

Creating the claustrophobic melting pot of London’s May of Teck club (for girls of slender means) in the frantic final days of the Second World War, makes great demands of the large ensemble. Director Muriel Romanes handles them magnificently, creating a constantly flowing crowd of semi-clad young things, peering through and round designer Merle Hensel’s moving translucent glass panels, which create corners and landings of the towering building. The two constants are the reverberating tones of Joanna (Melody Grove’s) elocution lessons and the Schiaparelli taffeta evening dress, which the girls share.

Teresa Churcher provides a solid foundation as the decidedly un-slender Jane who, some years later, is researching an article on Nicholas Farringdon (Jamie Lee), recently martyred but previously famous for making love with Candida Benson’s aware Selina on the roof of the club. Churcher and Maureen Beattie’s Greggie – playing up the comedy a touch – are guides through a piece which touches on barter and the catastrophic destruction of an old order, without getting as far beneath the surface as it might.

Published online
Review by
Thom Dibdin
Published in The Stage Newspaper on
Produced by
Stellar Quines & Assembly
Muriel Spark
Adapted by
Judith Adams
Directed by
Muriel Romanes
Running time
1 hour 30 minutes
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