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The Classic Philadelphia Story

The cast of The Philadelphia Story steps into the glamour of 1940s high society. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

The Philadelphia Story at the Talisman Theatre and Arts Centre, Kenilworth from Monday 5 February - Saturday 10 February 2024.

Review by Ashley Hayward.


Written by Phillip Barry in 1939 The Philadelphia Story became a much-loved movie starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart but with its timeless humour, fine acting, authentic sets and costumes it successfully transfers to a stage production over 80 years later!

Graham Buckingham Hill directs the action which takes place in 1940’s Philadelphian High Society where we meet socialite Tracey Lord, excellently portrayed by Gwen Davis.

Mark Oram as Mike, Gwen Davis as Tracy Lord and Eleanor Lake as Liz. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

She is about to tie the knot for the second time - on this occasion to George Kittredge a somewhat boring ‘nouveau riche’ industrialist and a ‘man of principle’. However, just as Tracey is about to take the plunge things become extremely complicated with the arrival of her ex-husband Dexter Haven.

Adam Turner plays the silver-tongued, heavy drinking, unreliable and fun-loving Dexter and was particularly welcomed back by Tracey’s mischievous kid sister Dinah, played extremely entertainingly by Alex Newman.

Gwen Davies as Tracy Lord finds herself amidst misunderstandings and romance. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

Things are further complicated by the visit of a journalist Macaulay ‘Mike’ Connor from a 1940’s equivalent of Hello magazine who is sent to cover the wedding. We discover that magazine has only been given access to the proceedings to prevent adverse publicity for the family due to Tracey’s Father’s alleged indiscretions with a dancer.

Mike does not approve of the lifestyle of such socialites and initially views the assignment as trivial and demeaning.

The production is very true to the original and the whole cast capture the rhythm of this type of ‘screwball’ comedy and do justice to the highly witty dialogue whilst maintaining their Pennsylvanian accents.

Adam Turner as ex-husband Dexter, with the groom to be Kittredge played by Dai Rees.  Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

The three acts all take place in a lavish, very expensive but tasteful looking drawing room and the costumes and music between acts are all very much of the 1930’s and 40’s.

The timeless central themes of the play are class, self-discovery, love, family dynamics and human frailty and it contains some captivating characters.

Tracey in particular discovers a great deal about her true self and at the end has to decide who it is that she truly loves…..



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