Firstly some excerpts of reviews about Summerfolk:
By Ed Farolan
The transition from laughter to tears in seconds by the beautiful Varya played to the T by Jennifer Ehle; the apparently dandyish nature of the writer Shalimov acted superbly by Henry Goodman confessing his love to Varya who admires him as a writer but loses her respect for him because she now sees his human side; Varya's useless lawyer husband, Sergei (Roger Allam) who hosts the summerfolk in his home and is deserted, as in Ibsen's Doll's House by his wife at the end of the play because of his gossipy macho mentality; and so forth and so on--simply superb acting by the other actors in this huge cast
And by Stephen Beeny
A cast of 26 actors demonstrates the great value of an ensemble company. Jennifer Ehle is the discontented wife languishing under the oppression of uselessness while her husband Roger Allam plays the perfect country gentleman
Stumbling Tounge calls Jennifer Ehle "femininity incarnate". The author writes, "playing the witty and intelligent Liz, Jennifer Ehle is like a living advertisement for woman. But I will let the pictures explain this one" The picture is from Possession.
It seems Paula Martinac is not happy about the portrayal of lesbians in Possession.
Oddly, Possession's warped lesbian theme is presented no differently than it might have been 10, 20, or 40 years ago. Consider that in 1991, Sylvia Rhue, then a board member of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), had this to say in a report to the L.A. Commission on the Status of Women about images of lesbians in film: "In heterosexual male fantasies, all women must be heterosexual. If there is a lesbian couple in a film, a man inevitably comes along to 'straighten out' the situation, ... leaving the woman's lover to die, disappear, or dissolve into oblivion." As examples, Rhue included early lesbian-themed movies like The Children's Hour and The Fox and '80s movies like Personal Best and The Bostonians. Today, she might add Possession to her list.I guess you can't please everyone.
The National Theatre discuss their production of Relapse. Someone wrote:
The Relapse and The Winter's Tale are the best things we have seen in the Olivier since the glorious NT99 Ensemble. For me, Edward Petherbridge and Raymond Coulthard stole the show (not an easy feat when surrounded by actors like Clare Price, Imogen Stubbs, James Purefoy and Alex Jennings). I thought I was the only one who couldn't understand Brian Blessed. How does this compare with the RSC version a few years ago with Jennifer Ehle? Did anyone see that?
The National's production of the play is undoubtedly excellent, but imagine what it would be like if they could have got Jennifer Ehle to reprise her role of Amanda in it. Mind-blowing, perhaps? If only the RNT could persuade her to become a regular member of their ensemble - go on Sir Trevor, give it a go, it would be a real coup for you.