The wipers times: Windows @Finborough
Windows is yet another rediscovery of a play that resonates with the issues of today. It’s set in the period after the First World War, but the issues it tackles seem familiar. Class, rehabilitation and liberal minded values are put to the test. Politicians are despised for their incompetence and the changing economy makes it hard to find help at the right price.
Written by John Galsworthy, better known for The Forsyte Sage, it’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre. And it’s having the first professional UK production in 85 years.
We’re introduced to the March family, who are living in Highgate. Geoffrey March (David Shelley) is a successful writer of novels. His son Johnny (Duncan Moore) is still suffering the effects of three years in the trenches. But they are in desperate need of a woman to help clear the table. Surely in Highgate they could not be expected to do that for themselves?
Their window cleaner Mr Bly (Vincent Brimble) pressures Mr March to give his daughter a chance at the job. After all, with their high minded and philosophical perspective they are likely to give her a better chance than others.
The only problem is (apart from her having no skills as a maid), that his daughter Faith (Charlotte Brimble) has just come out from prison. She served three years for killing her illegitimate child. It was a scandal they all knew from the papers.
Mrs March (Carolyn Backhouse) was less impressed with the philosophical debate and well-intentioned ideals and when Johnny beings to fall in love with Faith she takes a stand.
Galsworthy takes a subtle and amusing digs throughout at the ideals of modern Britain. The decent and moral clash with the harsh reality of scandal and primal urges. There may be no surprises in the piece but it’s played delicately by the ensemble cast assembled here.
Alex Marker’s production transforms the space of the Finborough into an intimate Highgate dining room so that it feels as if we’re part of a dinner party.
There are also a fabulous set of windows that Mr Bly comes in to clean. He comments that it is hardly worth the while to clean ‘em. After all like life they just get dirty again. The more things change the more some things stay the same indeed.
Directed by Geoffrey Beevers, Windows by John Galsworthy is at The Finborough until 9 September.
Photos by Scott Rylander