Vanity Fair

Sewell Barn, Norwich

> Sewell Barn, Norwich

One scene can shape your whole experience of a play. That was the case for me last night during Vanity Fair directed by Peter James.

It was the famous moment where the scales finally drop from gentle Amelia's eyes, and she accuses her old friend Becky of trying to cheat her of her husband's love.

As Amelia, Gemma Morris, challenged her friend, with the tears standing in her eyes, we were in the palm of her hand. Time stood still.

Up to this point, the story had romped along. In Declan Donnellan's slick play, the characters commented on the action constantly, with all the urbanity of Thackeray's original narrator.

Chapters rattled before us as we watched the girls leave school and their first attempts at love.

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But it was not until their heart-stopping face-off, that the satire became really biting. Suddenly I saw the true callousness of Ruth Bennett's interpretation of Becky. All at once, I sensed the game was dangerous.

Men play second fiddle. But Joseph Sedley, the bonviveur played by Tim Armishaw and George Osborne, Amelia's feckless, but ultimately loyal husband (Peter Daniel), both had a lightness of touch in the vein of Thackeray's prose.

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