Home and Beauty by Somerset Maugham is one of this year’s line-up at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
Directed by Richard Baron the play takes on accepted social norms of 1919 and trashes them conclusively.
Victoria, played with wonderful energy and total self-belief, by Isla Carter is a monster. She manages to equate marrying two DSOs with war-work and Maugham spares us nothing in her hedonistic outlook on life which sees her hogging the coal to have a fire in her bedroom while the rest of the house freezes.
Mayhem ensues from the moment her dead first husband, Major Cardew returns and in a scene of unalloyed farce, takes a wee while to learn that his wife has married his best friend in his absence. Major Lowndes then makes sterling, but ultimately futile, efforts to leave his wife to her first husband.
The play is a delight of exploding social norms, human frailties and that age-old maxim – Be careful what you ask for, lest you achieve it.
The audience need only remember what’s predictable in today’s climate of hapless males being taken to the cleaners by the women in their lives, was by no means expected in 1919. Mark Elstob gave a joyful performance of the divorce lawyer, AB Raham, trashing any regard for the law a lawyer might be expected to hold. In this character, Maugham shows remarkable prescience. Indeed taken as a whole, the celebrity culture of today is laid out by him.