Peggy Guggenheim loves art and artists in equal measure.
Set in glamorous 1940s Venice, Judy Rosenblatt bursts onto the small stage at Jermyn Street with an abundance of dresses and begins what is essentially an hour and a half monologue.
Lanie Robertson has created a piece which has a wonderful balance of elements any audience member would be familiar with – the second World War and Titanic, for example – and stories which they may not usually associate with such travesties. The set is as artistic as the subject matter – it is the perfect backdrop for Rosenblatt’s elegant portrayal of Peggy Guggenheim.
One could be forgiven for assuming that this is a piece about a fancy woman who has too many dresses and has a lot of sex, initially, but emotion prevails as we discover the insecurity and hurt behind Guggenheim’s extravagant activities and her broken relationships. The Italian used is funny even if you don’t understand the Italian – and funnier if you do, which is incredibly classy if a little elitist.
Rosenblatt has the attitude and class required to carry the story on her own shoulders throughout, and there isn’t a moment where the depth or intricacies of the story feel anything but safe in her hands. While there were moments when the conversations with other family members felt forced in production, we meet Peggy Guggenheim’s children, parents and lovers through her wonderful storytelling.
Woman Before A Glass is undoubtedly an education in upper class love, loss and experience of war and turmoil. Rosenblatt tells the story beautifully throughout – by the end, there isn’t anything she could say that would be a surprise – she has demolished all taboos and all unchartered territory.
Woman Before A Glass plays at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 3rd February.
Woman Before A Glass runs until February 3rd at Jermyn Street Theatre. Tickets are £30.
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