The most recent production from MZG Theatre Productions (Jack Maple and Brian Zeilinger-Goode) is Terence Rattigan’s story of a grieving widow toying with bottle and seeking answers on her husband’s death.
Originally performed on television in 1968 (with Margaret Leighton in formal evening dress and traditional upper-middle class manners), All On Her Own proves that ‘less is more’.
Running at just under half an hour, Janie Dee’s jaded yet “charming, civilised and cultured” Rosemary engages in chat with her dead spouse Gregory, trying to make sense of her loneliness, her guilt, and their – on the surface – loveless marriage.
She’s ambitious, down to rebranding him as an architect (rather than a builder) now he “can’t object”. In her evocation of het husband, Dee’s voice lowers to a gruff Northern pace, conjuring up the comfort of answers she wants to hear.
Now and again there are moments both Rosemary and us, as audience, may feel she has reached the spirit world: ‘he’ admonishes her for excessive drinking; there’s a moment of revelation about his birthplace.
Wearing black and white smart casual clothes on her return from a dinner party, “you would have hated it”, Rosemary blends in with her tasteful Hampstead home, accessorised straight out of a design catalogue.
Alastair Knights directs this old-fashioned, shape-shifting piece, capturing perfectly the ice-coldness of Rosemary and Gregory’s union (she is preoccupied with the turns of phrase he used which irritated her). With Lindsey Miller’s music underscoring the action, we watch this lonely woman play out her regrets, over and over.
Certainly a minor work in Rattigan’s oeuvre, All On Her Own is nevertheless beautifully written and engagingly performed.
It is an unusual monologue which holds the attention throughout; although perhaps the borderline hysterics of the original version are ultimately truer to the play as written.
All On Her Own is available at stream.theatre from 16 February – book tickets here.
Image credit: Danny Kaan.
LouReviews received complimentary access to review All On Her Own.