Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

Lettice and Lovage

By Peter Shaffer
Directed by Peter King (at Bravo!)

front row


This humorous play was written by Peter Shaffer in 1987, specifically for Maggie Smith who originated the lead role of “Lettice Douffet.” Here at the Bravo! theater, we had visiting actress Vanessa McCaffrey giving us a sparkling performance as the extraordinary and extrovert Lettice.

The opening scenes feature Lettice as a tour guide at historic Fustian Hall. Nothing of note has ever happened at the Hall, though Queen Elizabeth l is supposed to have slept there on one occasion. So Lettice enlivens the tour by exaggerating the drama of certain events. This delights the tourists and helps Lettice as she solicits their tips at the end of the tour. “Lotte Schoen,” who is the Administrator for the Preservation Trust which owns the building, appears on one of Lettice’s tours and is outraged by her fanciful embellishment of historical facts. The next day Lettice is summoned to Lotte’s office, and is fired.

Monnie King plays Lotte with some skill, presenting her initially as rigid and humorless, and then warming her up as the play progresses. And Peggy Lord Chilton offers a delightful cameo as “Miss Framer” who is Lotte’s ancient secretary. Subsequent scenes take place in Lettice’s London basement flat, which contains the remains of theatrical scenery. There is also a cat which plays an important role in the play. I really enjoyed Vanessa McCaffrey’s interpretation of Lettice – it would be so easy to overact the role, but she is simply herself and lets the author’s very entertaining dialogue do the work.

In the second Act, Lotte feels guilty about firing Lettice and comes to visit her with the intention of finding her a new job. The two gradually become friends, especially after drinking Lettice’s potent homemade Lovage wine. They share a common interest in English history, and reenact key moments including the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. At this point Peter King appears as “Mr Bardolph,” who is a court-appointed lawyer.

It appears that Lettice is accused of attempted murder, as the execution scene was too realistic. Peter King is suitably confused and also a bit pompous, in fact a typical British lawyer. I enjoyed this very well-written play, though the ending was rather strange, as the two ladies embark on a celebration of architectural ugliness. It is true that for a while in Britain there was a fashion for very ugly buildings – the mantra was “Form Follows Function” and some hideous concrete structures appeared on the scene. No doubt Peter Shaffer agreed with Prince Charles that this was a big mistake.

Thanks to Bravo! for providing this delightful entertainment. I congratulate director Peter King and all the cast and crew. I should also mention the ingenious set design by Dana Douin. Margo Eberly was Stage and House Manager. The next show in March at Bravo! is “The Book of Will” by Lauren Gunderson, which tells the story of how two aging actors saved the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays.

El Ojo del Lago - Home Page


michael warren




Column: Front Row Center




Michael Warren grew up in London, England and lived on Baker Street very close to where Sherlock Holmes hung out his shingle. He graduated with an Honors degree in Mathematics from King’s College, Cambridge, which no doubt helps him to balance his check book. While a student, he edited a humorous magazine entitled “ffobia” which was widely circulated amongst his friends.
Michael moved to Ajijic in 2000. Since moving to Mexico, Michael has forgotten almost all his mathematics, and has taught English to Mexican students, assisted in promoting musical events, helped to found the Open Circle group, and published his book of poems “A Particular Blue.” In short, he has found happiness. He has appeared onstage in nine plays at the Lakeside Little Theatre.  For the last ten years, he has been writing the theater reviews for El Ojo Del Lago under the byline “Front Row Center.”

Pin It
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren   November 2021 Everything in the Garden July 2021 Dinner With Friends June
Front Row Center By Michael Warren    The Pajama Game By Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton Music directed
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren TributeBy Bernard SladeDirected by Roseann Wilshire   Tribute is a strange play, a mixture of comedy, sentimentality
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren The ForeignerBy Larry ShueDirected by Larry King   The Foreigner is a hokey comedy set in a fishing resort in the
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren The Lakeside Little Theatre – A Historical Note   Due to the timing of the plays and the submission requirements
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
  VICTORIA SCHMIDT   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. 
  ALEJANDRO GRATTAN-DOMINGUEZ   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only
    MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING   Column: Profiling Tepehua   Website:   Settled in Mexico 13 years ago.  The
  KEN MASSON   Column: Bridge by the Lake   Website:   Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge
 Find us on Facebook