Next Stage review: Dinner With The Duchess

Nick Green's play about an interview between a celebrated violinist and an ambitious journalist sets off lots of dramatic sparks

DINNER WITH THE DUCHESS by Nick Green (The Duchess Collective/Next Stage). At the Factory Mainstage (125 Bathurst). Jan 11 at 5:15 pm, Jan 12 at 8:30 pm, Jan 13 at 3:30 pm, Jan 14 at 8:45 pm, Jan 16 at 6:30 pm, Jan 17 at 9:45 pm, Jan 18 at 5 pm, Jan 19 at 1 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Boasting a superb trio of actors and dialogue rich with verbal jousting, Nick Green’s comedic drama about a classical musician hits all the right notes.

On the verge of retirement, violinist Margaret (Allegra Fulton) invites Helen (Rosie Simon), an ambitious young journalist, into her home to conduct the final interview of her storied career.

From the outset each character jockeys for the upper hand, the tension between them building in thrilling ways. The interview becomes even more strained when Margaret’s husband David (David Jansen) joins to serve a dinner he prepared – a meal that falls short of meeting Margaret’s high standards.

Green’s script sizzles with subtext and juicy, sarcastic banter. The acting is tremendous, especially Fulton who goes far deeper than mere caricature of a woman aging out of a professional career where she once ruled the stage. Margaret aches with loneliness, anger and regret, which all comes to a head at the end of the interview.

Geordie Johnson’s staging allows the diva Margaret some grand entrances, especially with the help of set and costume designer Christine Urquhart’s gauzy, white curtains. Margaret’s monologues are highlights of the play, wistfully delivered and filled with musical imagery and sadness.

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