Woman Before a Glass
Jermyn Street Theatre
Reviewed – 19th January 2018
“beautifully delivered as a one woman tour de force by a brilliant Judy Rosenblatt”
Jermyn Street Theatre is a tiny but perfect venue that I must have wandered past for years before I knew it existed. Once I did, I was always intrigued by the descending stairs that disappeared into a mysterious curve, leaving the studio tantalisingly out of view. I was excited at the thought of finally finding out what magic lay at the bottom of the steps!
The real life of Peggy (Marguerite) Guggenheim, art collector, daughter, sister, mother, lover, wife, ex-wife, drinker and survivor, is peeked at in this play by Lanie Robertson. Set in one room of her villa in her beloved adopted home of Venice (design by Erika Rodriguez), Peggy lays bare her love of life, men and art. She reminiscences in her lounge or talks on the phone, she speaks to a person offstage as a matter of fact or as a passing aside, giving an insight into the strong woman she is. She was however, in an era that found independent women difficult to deal with, both notorious and scandalous; yet she was content with that, enjoying it more often than not.
Peggy’s amazing history, her losses and loves, and her discovery of contemporary art emerge as we hear her recount snippets of her life. We drift in and out of her thoughts as she fights to keep the significant pieces of art she has lovingly amassed as a single collection – this is her legacy for the future and it is her priority.
These pictures and sculptures are more ‘children’ to her than her flesh and blood, and as she battles for their future it becomes clear that many relationships in her life have taken second place to it, and there are consequences for that. Her stories are humourous, bittersweet, and sometimes tragic.
Directed by Austin Pendleton, this production of Woman Before a Glass is beautifully delivered as a one woman tour de force by a brilliant Judy Rosenblatt as Peggy. There is a great mix of audience acknowledgement, factual information, comic storytelling, sympathy, and understated sadness.
Reviewed by Joanna Hinson
Photography by Robert Workman
Woman Before a Glass
Jermyn Street Theatre until 3rd February