The play “London Wall” debuted in 1930s Britain to critical acclaim. Deemed to be ahead of its time, it was then forgotten and neglected, taking 83 years to finally debut in the U.S. Since 2014, few American theater companies have tried to tackle this production, but Blinn College–Bryan Theatre Arts is proud to be one of them come Nov. 2.
This production caught the eye of Greg Wise, instructor of theater at Blinn College and the director of “London Wall,” after Mint Theater Company performed it. The Mint is known for performing “lost or neglected plays” which is something Wise admires. “We are really honored to be one of the few American companies to get to present it,” Wise says. He views it as a “forgotten comedy classic.” Other than being a lost play, Wise chose it because of how the content relates to today’s atmosphere regarding women.
“I definitely chose this with the ‘me too’ movement in mind,” says Wise. “People will be astonished how much this older play still matters.” The story follows Pat Milligan, the newest female typist in a 1930s London law firm, and all the issues that she faces. Wise explains, “It explores how she is negotiating the wanted and unwanted advances of her male colleagues, and also her personal struggles with finding a balance between pleasure and work.” The show is very much an ensemble performance however, focusing in on Mrs. Janice – the eldest female member of the law firm, whose problems contrast with Pat’s; Mr. Brewer – the youngest male lawyer in the firm, who is known as a “ladies man” and views Pat as his next “conquest”; and Hec – a worker in an office nearby, who becomes smitten with Pat but is too poor to be with her. Wise elaborates that the play is a cultural dive into 1930s London while also making important statements on sexual harassment. He emphasizes that while it seems very rough and dramatic, in reality, the play is a “rom-com with an edge.” The best aspect for him is that since there is so little performance history, the play can be taken in any artistic direction. “It’s been all about discovering [the play] for its merits, values, and humor,” says Wise, “and about asking the question: how does this relate to modern audiences?”
Along with finding the direction to take the play, Wise has particularly enjoyed working with the fantastic cast. Professional accent trainers have been brought in for the student actors to learn British accents, and on top of school, they have been rehearsing three to four days a week for over two months. Wise is very proud and impressed by the incredible work that has been put into this production. In conjunction with the acting cast, there are multiple student stage crew members who have worked just as hard. “What really brings it all together is the beautiful costume designs by Rayna Dexter, an instructional assistant professor for performance studies at Texas A&M,” Wise says.
Tickets for this play are online on the Blinn Box Office website, (choose Bryan campus) or they can be bought at the door. Bring your student I.D. because there are student discounts. Showings will be Nov. 2, 3, 7, and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.