Author: Rosemary Hawthorne
Directors: Rachel Longstaff and Phoebe Hawthorne
Musical Director: Robin Stout
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree
The Public Reviews Rating:
Ideally suited to the intimate atmosphere of the Yvonne Arnaud Mill Studio, Rosemary Hawthorne’s one woman show followed John Reith’s instruction to the infant BBC to “Educate, inform and entertain” to the letter. Set on a stage bursting at the seams with dress stands, suitcases, hat boxes and hampers, Rosemary enters dressed in a neat but un-dateable blue jacket and red skirt combination, with the addition of a huge pink ostrich feather sticking straight up from her topknot.
By turns coy, sweet, bouncy and cheeky, she takes her audience through the history of knickers which many were surprised to hear date only from the late 18th century, and then only in primitive form. She goes on to relate the development of underwear generally.
Skipping from one article to another she holds it up, tells its story then flings it gaily aside before moving on. The show must take a mammoth tidying up afterwards and explains why, after a matinee, the evening performance cannot begin until 8pm.
Act one finishes with the end of World War II and act two begins aptly with Dior’s New Look which Hawthorne describes as “The Nylon Years”. The whole is brought right up to date with the smallest item in her vast collection of garments.
The show is very much a team effort, the lighting turning our attention to different pieces and suitable music and sound effects punctuating the background stories. Only the slightly commercial overtones in the merchandising of Rosemary’s books after the show throws a small shadow over the family friendly atmosphere of an otherwise charming evening out.
Now touring the UK until 20th April 2013
The Knicker Lady – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford,