Cahoots Theatre Company presents a rare revival of this comedy about England in the '30s, when it looked as if the social order might be changing. Part of 59E59's annual Brits Off Broadway festival. More…
The Kettlewells are a dysfunctional family. Richard is an old Etonian whose business ventures are failing. Over a crowded weekend, his daughter Pamela, whom he hardly knows, returns from Russia, a passionate communist; his ex-wife and mistress both turn up; and his butler has a big win at the races. Playwright J.B. Priestley is best known for his classic drama 'An Inspector Calls.' First staged in 1932, 'The Roundabout' is enjoying its very belated U.S. debut.
“This sparkling, impeccably staged play will be catnip to ‘Downton Abbey’ devotees, with equal doses of humor and insight...Some period conventions creak…The director, Hugh Ross, adds a soupçon of farce to the percolating proceedings, keeping his busy cast on point. Throughout, Priestley gently reminds us of the ephemerality of affluence in a teetering economy. His words, with their generous, sympathetic regard for human nature, cast a binding glow over the production.” Full Review
“A truly charming play, one that will appeal to a broad audience…Directed by Hugh Ross, the staging is superb and the show's cast shines bright in their roles…The comings and goings of these colorful characters, the clash of social classes, and the fast-paced, clever dialogue create a totally entertaining and engaging theatrical experience. You'll love the cast of 'The Roundabout.' They are funny, lively and authentic.” Full Review
“Unearthing old theatre gems is like digging for truffles–and British director Hugh Ross has found one…It sparkles with the wit of Wilde, the frivolity of Coward, and the saltiness of Shaw…‘The Roundabout’ holds the promise of an entertaining comedy of manners–but delivers far more…In the midst of all this frivolity, playwright Priestley offers a sharp, satirical bird's-eye view of an anxious era when England’s social order is changing and facing growing threats from abroad.” Full Review
“A delightful romp into the past…Under Hugh Ross’ direction, the play moves at a clip and is crisp and refreshing. Mr. Sachs is delightful as ‘Chuffy,’ bringing comedic chops…Ms Laing has that ‘it’ factor that makes her completely watchable…Plays written in other eras are turning out to be morality plays that show us how little we have learned. With 'The Roundabout,' at least it is served up in a palatable, witty way.” Full Review
"A grand production, directed exactly as it should be and with precisely the right cast...Dated, yes, but possessing the kind of charm those plays continue to hold...'The Roundabout' also has a very special humor about it...The true value is that it’s Priestley getting laughs at the expense of the upstart English who’ve jumped on the Communist bandwagon...A threat he might have taken more seriously. But if he had, 'The Roundabout' wouldn’t be half the fun it is." Full Review
"A charming and well-performed work with an undercurrent of social criticism...A well-oiled ensemble, which, under Hugh Ross's direction, does a fine job of keeping the lighter-than-air domestic comedy floating stylishly and smoothly for its close to two-and-half-hour running time...While 'The Roundabout' may not exactly be a newly rediscovered treasure unearthed from the good old days, it provides enough delights to make it well worth the visit." Full Review
"Under Hugh Ross’s well-paced direction, the cast is uniformly engaging...It is the unpredictability of these parallel story lines that makes 'The Roundabout' consummately entertaining...Priestley chooses not to explore the issues he introduces with any depth...Still, Mr. Priestley’s 1931 'very light comedy' is a delightful romp around the roundabout well worth the trip." Full Review
“A classy staging...The sprightly cast is built around the life of Lord Kettlewell, played with charm and occasional bewilderment by the excellent Brian Protheroe…The excellent cast members include Richenda Carey, Charlie Field and Ed Pinker. Polly Sullivan has designed an effective Kettlewell country home in the small stage space, and Hugh Ross directs what is a very stylish production, the kind we have come to expect from visiting Brits.” Full Review
"Emily Laing–both as character and actress–is half the show and worth every minute...The direction is tone-perfect and the cast without exception excellent...The play ends a little too quickly: we’re left with a sense that some explanations are needed about why things resolve as they do. But that’s only after a thoroughly delightful time spent at Lord Kettlewell’s country home." Full Review
“While the play pretends to be making a statement about British class structure and the economic and social changes that were occurring in the 1930's, it is both very lightweight and very much a period piece of an earlier age. The repartee is good but, alas, the play is not particularly witty nor does it offer memorable one liners. From the usually brilliant J.B. Priestley we have come to expect a good deal more originality.” Full Review
“'The Roundabout'…offers enough nutrition for a band of first-rate thespians to feast on to make its resurrection edible. However, it's still second-rate Priestley, far too long and chatty, at two hours and 15 minutes, for its wafer-thin, drawing room/romantic comedy plot, leavened by political satire…There's some enjoyment to be derived from Priestley's then timely and sometimes still pertinent observations on social and economic matters, but the…laughs are mostly of the polite, muffled kind.” Full Review
“'The Roundabout' is a very mild evening of drawing-room skirmishes, the sort of thing that Coward, Maugham, and Frederick Lonsdale handled far more deftly…A few bright remarks aside, this is a strictly by-the-numbers affair: Couples are arranged and rearranged…Hugh Ross' production could use some additional layers of high-comedy style, but it gets the job done…‘The Roundabout’ will probably keep audiences amused, but it is a lesser example of its genre." Full Review
"Ambitious and well-acted...The actors deliver cut-glass diction and high style; it’s the play itself that frequently betrays their efforts...Unfortunately, Pamela is the center of the action, yet her character is often irritating, and Laing doesn’t make her as palatable as she needs to be...'The Roundabout' is no lost diamond, but it’s more than a lump of anthracite. For fans of Priestley or drawing-room comedy, there are charms. Too often, though, one wishes it were that missing diamond." Full Review
"Incessant flippant chatter is crisply deployed along with archaic social commentary...Going along with the presumption that pretentiously affected acting comes with the territory and with this import, credit is due to the cast and to Ross who has affably and effectively abetted...Notwithstanding the play's relative insignificance, it actually makes a slight and snippy jab at a world of disengaged gentry...A play that is, if nothing less or more, appropriately named." Full Review
“A comedic, but inconsequential, look at upper-class decadence…'The Roundabout' is played for laughs, rather than ideas… All told, 'The Roundabout' is well-acted and well-staged. I wish that were enough, but it's not. Despite the still-timely reference to sexual misconduct, the play is dated; despite some terrific one-liners, its assets are insufficient to recommend what is ultimately a stale production.” Full Review
"It can safely be said that breezy debates about the virtues of communism versus capitalism, in a high-twit-factor, three-act, moldy British drawing-room comedy is hardly the place to do the topic justice...'The Roundabout' has quite a talented cast. The problem is that it’s just not terribly funny or impactful. It’s quite a bland offering...if you’re a huge fan of, say, 'The Importance of Being Ernest' and pine for spatterdashes and top hats, you’ll enjoy 'The Roundabout' immensely." Full Review
"As it stands, we’re subjected to a tedious two hours in the hands of milquetoast Kettlewell, almost-ran Chuffy, bratty, tantrum-throwing, mischief-making Pamela, and boorish cliché Comrade Staggles...Aside from flickers, those onstage range from poor to irritating to ho-hum. Hugh Ross’s direction is so heavy-handed, movement has no motivation except audience view, irony goes by practically unnoticed." Full Review
for a previous production "'The Roundabout' boasts a stellar cast who work very well together. Bessie Carter gives an excellent performance as Pamela, playing both her mischievous and vulnerable sides well...The rest of the cast give great performances complementing the main characters well...Hugh Ross’s direction is in keeping with the tone of the piece. Whilst the play doesn’t really have much of a plot it is worth seeing and is a funny and perceptive look at English life in the 1930s." Full Review
for a previous production "While not exactly the unearthing of a dramatic masterpiece, 'The Roundabout' is also more than a mere curiosity item...The stage is set for a keen comedy about social class that dances with witty banter...Hugh Ross' elegant production has not come to the boil quite yet, with one or two actors still on the back foot in their timing and some of their lines; but there are at least two exemplary lead performances that get the pace, period and pitch just right." Full Review
for a previous production "Hugh Ross’s sparky revival wisely never pretends this trifling piece is anything more than it is...Much of the subsequent fun is at the expense of Staggles, delightfully played by Steven Blakeley...But the performance of the evening comes from Bessie Carter...She lends the glamorous Pamela a delightfully Puckish sense of mischief...Priestley, though, seems to have lost interest in his own play as it proceeds." Full Review
for a previous production "Despite its quite clever setup, Priestley’s play never becomes more than silly fun, and so does not arrive to a meaningful conclusion either...The play itself is quite wordy, and so the actors have very little to do other than talking...The script is very entertaining...It certainly is not a risk-taking play, and Ross’ direction does not seem to discover anything new in it. But if you are after some traditional fun, you will certainly have a good time." Full Review
for a previous production “J.B. Priestley's ‘The Roundabout’ is an earlier, slighter work than those that established his reputation…The plot isn't quite sufficient to support over two hours' action…On the upside, Bessie Carter is splendid…Hugh Sachs has a lot of fun as Chuffy…As for the other characters - well, caricatures - I found them too broad to believe in really…Perhaps these plot problems are why the play has been forgotten for so long, but maybe now is the right time to revive it." Full Review
for a previous production "It has its moments, but you feel the domestic crises of a bankrupt aristo, which provide the main theme, fit oddly with Priestley’s glancing references to the state of the nation...Priestley tries to have it both ways: he satirises the upper class, while glibly sending up the young communists...You can see why the play was forgotten. Priestley never reconciled its comic and serious elements, but I was glad to have seen it, if only for the glimpse of what Auden dubbed 'a low, dishonest decade.'" Full Review
for a previous production "The main issue with this play is that it is simply pleasant, twee, and harmless. In other words, vanilla – dated and ultimately not particularly memorable...Ross makes traditional, expected choices for a play that bubbles with the undercurrent of revolution...In 'The Roundabout,' actors stumble over lines and unintentionally jump into each other’s dialogue, so while the production rolls along inoffensively, it doesn’t build any pace, impetus or drive." Full Review
for a previous production “About as substantial as a cocktail olive. A rattlebag of ridiculous contrivance and clownish characters, it lurches in tone from strained sub-Wildean aphorism to effortful Shavian dialectic...Although Hugh Ross’s boisterous production has a twinkling appeal, the whole experience manages to feel at once half-baked and overcooked…‘The Roundabout’ offers only the very slightest of pleasures, and when it stops pointlessly spinning, it’s rather a relief to get off.” Full Review
See it if U enjoy British humor & love English spoken well & classy social manners & styles from a bygone elegant era. U like J.B. Priestley's plays.
Don't see it if U don't like farce. U don't understand English upper.class customs. U have trouble with British accents.
See it if You enjoy British theater. Loved the premise of families coming together after long separations. Lots of interesting characters.
Don't see it if You don't care for British theater.
See it if you like British parlor comedies from the pre depression era that are acted perfectly.Lovely costumes and set. Written by JB Priestly
Don't see it if hate tv shows like Downton Abby. Can't understand British accents. Want to see shows that are gritty. Prefer grunts to complete sentences.
See it if you enjoy witty dialogue with British accent. Very developed characters, especially the daughter. Shaw would have done even more with plot.
Don't see it if don't like farce or British accents.
See it if you like terrific acting, great writing, and an interesting set. This drawing room comedy explores issues of class in a delightful way.
Don't see it if you are looking for something serious and pedantic. The acting is really top notch. Show is a lot of fun without being silly.
See it if You are interested in a rarely-seen, albeit light, JB Priestley play from the 1930s.
Don't see it if Light period British comedies from the 1930s don't sound like your cup of tea.
See it if fun; '30s play combines sting of GB Shaw/satirizes casual communists + breeziness of Noel Coward/upper class idiocy well played by Brit cast
Don't see it if a lot of overacting by stock characters to evoke laughs, predictable plotting, too restrained to be memorable farce
See it if English drawing room comedy about British classes facing economic downturn in early 1930's; funny characters
Don't see it if Act 2 slows as one of the main characters becomes (as described by another character) 'tiresome'. 2 fun characters in Act 1 do not appear.
See it if you enjoy British comedies. There are laughs, but the silly plot gets tedious in Act II. JBP must have finished the script quickly.
Don't see it if you dislike uneven acting. The women are better than the men. Pamela stands out, altho her character is annoying. Chuffey has the best part.
See it if Almost charming, well observed story of upper class English facing crumbling of their class structure. Sometimes lovely, often stagy, light-
Don't see it if ... weight period piece notable for the lack of raillery at the situation, a keen eye for hypocrisy, and wonderful costumes.
See it if like dated english plays about class with with some good acting from all english cast
Don't see it if love 59e59 brits but found this one uninteresting dated slow it was a preview so maybe the timing was off not a must see or must stay away
See it if you enjoy plays that are definitely "period pieces", especially one by J.B. Priestley which has neve been done in this country before.
Don't see it if you have no patience with old-fashioned plays that seem to have no relevance to our world today.
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