I suspected the play would drag without a break, but it was a fast flowing and enchanting performance which was actually over all too soon. Tish had also informed the audience that the actors had only started rehearsing last Monday, which explained why they were all carrying and sometimes reading from their scripts – however the acting was fantastic and if they didn’t know their lines, it certainly didn’t affect the performance.
Possessed is the story of Jane Burden, an Oxford servant girl who captured the creative eye – and eventually the heart – of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. As Gabriel was engaged when they met, Jane married local legend, the rich self-made businessman William Morris. Heartbreak, deceit and madness ensued – Jane and Gabriel finally gave into their feelings so for a moment the audience were buoyed for a happy ending, but Gabriel was driven mad by the suicide of his wife who had killed herself due to his secret love for Jane.
The acting was passionate and flawless, the score was well written and I was particularly impressed by the duet ‘A Quiet Little Life’ – a quaint and lovely song encapsulating the gradual, simple, underlying love affair which had built between the two servants – in contrast to the passion and complexities of the main love story between Gabriel and Jane. Also, Jane’s final, mournful, heartbreaking ‘goodbye’ song to Gabriel really did bring tears to my eyes – the wrenching of a love lost forever.
Overall, a very enjoyable, powerful performance, well acted and sung (despite carrying the scripts around!). The use of the shots of the stained glass windows made sense when I read the programme – they were based on the real stained glass windows produced by Morris and Co at the actual time of the story. The only quibbles I have are that the narration skipped-over scenes sometimes making the story a little confusing, and the costumes looked rather thrown together – and both my guest and I were left unsure what had happened to Gabriel, wondering if we’d somehow missed a significant bit of the story – had he gone mad? Did Morris kill him? Did Jane leave him to stay with Morris? Perhaps we’ll never know – and perhaps that was all part of the plan…..