LEGIT BRIT: Theatre Review - A Song At Twilight

A Song At Twilight at Pasadena 
Playhouse

Review by Catherine Siggins
04/10/2014

In A Song At Twilight, an aging writer, Sir Hugo Latymer, finds himself in danger of being outed as homosexual to the public and his wife of 20 years, Hilde Latymer, when his former lover, Carlotta Gray, threatens to hand over old love letters to a biographer for publication, which he wrote to his former male secretary, the one true love of his life, thereby destroying his reputation, his only support system, and endangering him with the law. There is to be a reckoning before time runs out for them both. The stakes are high.
One would not think this subject matter could gives us such an entertaining comedy, yet Coward has used his signature wit and way with words to write insightful observations on deception, fear, ageing, mortality, weakness, honesty versus truth, loss, acceptance, and forgiveness. It is different from Cowards previous work, as he has written an explicitly homosexual character for the first time, a role he played when it premiered in 1966. This is a very personal play coming at the end of his life but unlike his creation, Sir Hugo, Coward showed great moral courage in doing so. Many LGBT people in today’s world are faced with these same dilemmas and dangers, and this is why Pasadena Playhouse, under the artistic direction of Sheldon Epps, has chosen to put on this still contemporary play. More power to them!

Director Art Manke brings together a premier league cast of Bruce Davidson (Sir Hugo), Sharon Lawrence (Carlotta Gray) and Roxanne Hart (Hilde Latymer). Mr. Davidson gives a substantial performance as a Sir Hugo prone to sulks, fatigue and apoplectics rages, and Hugo’s less affected and exacting then written. It makes for interesting watching when faced with a much more energetic Carlotta, Ms. Lawrence poised and elegant, and she seems to have Sir Hugo at a disadvantage, and for the first act it felt as if he was mostly up against the ropes, his surety in his situation shaken.
These two fantastic actors are astonishing to watch as they play the game of civility, however, I felt they were a little too sympathetic toward each other at times, some of the more barbed lines missing the tones of animosity and bitterness alluded to, which for me would make their attempts at politeness all the more amusing. I was moved when they did show their vulnerabilities.
Roxanne Hart throughout is right on note. Her Hilde is so present and has such depth of emotion, she had me rooting for her. Hilde is a truth teller, and Ms. Hart has embodied her perfectly.
Zach Bandler, is dashing and supremely efficient as Felix. With matinee idol looks reminiscent of Ramon Navarro, his reactions to Carlotta’s flirting are delightful, pitched between graciousness and embarrassment. He would be at home in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
When you go see this show, I recommend you sit more to the back of the auditorium which will afford you the pleasure of seeing excellent staging of the Playhouse production team, and these fantastic actor’s effortless use of the stage in a production of the highest quality.

Only six performances remain. 
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