‘A Round-Heeled Woman’ at Aldwych Theatre

Jane Juska, played by Sharon Gless (remembered, inevitably, as one half of the 1980s ‘Cagney and Lacey’)  a retired English teacher, placed an ad in the New York Review of books ‘Before I turn 67 – next March – I’d like to have a lot of sex with a man I like.  If you want to talk first Trollope works for me.’

She received over 60 replies from men aged between 32 and 84.  She wrote a book about her experiences of meeting some of them, and this play is an abridged version of those stories.

It has charm and some genuinely funny moments, although I think both of these were largely due to Sharon Gless’s performance, as there was a degree of ‘self empowerment schmalz’ especially at the end,  that felt a tad inconsistent with the scenes that came before.  Most of the ‘dates’ were either disappointing or cruel, and yet she would have us believe that she kept in touch with the men afterwards, and had found some kind of strength from the experience.  To me it looked like there was much more fun in recounting the tales of the nights out (and in) than the experience of them themselves.

At the interval, I commented to my friend that while I was enjoying it, I did find the segments between the dates more entertaining than the dates themselves, she agreed and said ‘but that’s the way it is, isn’t it?’  Too true.

Given the potentially controversial subject matter, the ‘cringe’ factor is very low, no nudity or anything otherwise potentially embarrassing, although some of the language is bluntly descriptive.

There is a sub plot involving the possibilities of reconciliation with her long estranged son, and frequent mention of the fact that Jane had once taught creative writing to the inmates on death row in San Quentin, giving us a hint that her life until 66 hadn’t been quite so tame as she might otherwise have us believe, and about which I would have been interested to learn more.

A supporting cast of 5 plays a variety of characters including some of the ‘dates’, Jane’s friends, her son, and characters from ‘Miss Mackenzie’ by Trollope, whose trials and tribulations are used as occasional counterpoints to the main action.  I enjoyed these supporting performances, especially wondering at how rapidly they must be doing their quick costume changes backstage.  Although it was almost part of the joke that the actors were recognisably playing multiple roles, because of their great versatility, there was never any doubt that the characters were different.

Above all it was fun, and some parts made me laugh out loud.

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3 Comments

  1. Jill Goldberg

     /  December 5, 2011

    I would love to see the play. I read the book, and the subsequent one she wrote (although it’s title eludes me now). She writes well, and I loved the angle.

    Reply
    • I enjoyed the show but wouldn’t have thought to seek out the book on the back of it, so it’s interesting to hear that it’s a good read. (Sometimes typos creep in no matter how hoard we try! I’m sure I’ve left plenty of evidence of this behind me!)

      Reply
  2. Jill Goldberg

     /  December 5, 2011

    aah typo

    Reply

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