Review: ‘The Pursuit of Love’ Against All Odds
Mortimer generally follows the plot of the novel and incorporates much of her words directly into Fanny’s narration, and her “Pursuit of Love” gets better the closer she gets to the book. Unfortunately, when she walks away from it, expanding on Mitford’s story, she mostly has bad ideas.
Her changes, especially her elaboration of Fanny and Linda’s relationship, push the show in more literal, more gloomy, and, fatally, more melodramatic directions. The tragedy of Linda’s ill-engendered love attempts no longer creeps through the seams of the story. Things that were implicit and largely unjudged in the book, filtered through layers of stiff irony – Fanny’s self-pity, Linda’s forgetting – are now brought to the fore and, for the most part, made mundane, with platitudes at the “beach” level. and sentimentality. Mortimer presents himself as the Bolter, in a role whose expansion has no other obvious point than to increase our sympathy for Fanny.
Other additions to the story seem designed to make the male characters more obnoxious – Uncle Matthew more of a violent ogre, Fanny’s husband Alfred more of a domineering asshole. Allied with these is an exaggerated sense of the childhood country home, Alconleigh, as a prison to escape.
You might see these changes in a more contemporary, feminist reading. But they only contribute to a moralism that lacks the tone of the book. Mitford could be absolutely critical when it came to tastes and manners, but she was forgiving, albeit a little sad, when it came to the life choices of her characters.
Along with James and Beecham, those who do well in the production include Dominic West, who makes Uncle Matthew’s tirades fun, and Freddie Fox, who in a few scenes as Linda’s first husband, Tony, justifies her moment of unhappy attraction. for him.
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