That Woman! Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
Fringe Management, Howard Gluss and Sharon Morrill
Gilded Balloon Teviot
The British Royal Family are everywhere at the moment, through real televised marriages to a multi-million pound Netflix series.
After decades of uncertainty, their popularity is once again soaring so it’s more timely than ever to hear the story of ‘that woman’, the scandalous American who stole a British King.
And that’s the thing with Wallis Simpson, she’s an intriguing character who’s guaranteed a place in the history books whether she wants it or not. It’s not necessarily her narrative that’s remembered, however, so this show offers an intimate conversation with the Duchess herself and provides the chance for her to speak.
There’s a lot of material to get through but, due to the detailed script and Melissa Jobe’s composed performance, it never feels rushed. The chronology is not stuck to too rigidly but like all good storytellers Jobe’s Wallis brings herself back to the point, the tangents entirely relevant.
With an imposing chair, family photos and of course a whisky decanter, the civilised air of the Windsor residence (in Paris) is suggested subtly but it is Jobe’s elegance, confidence and command of the stage which convince that the audience is in the presence of royalty. With whisky glass in hand Wallis recalls her upbringing, marriages, well-connected friends and of course her infamous love story with David.
Scott Smith’s script mixes fact with wry humour, a trace of bitterness and plenty of incredulity giving Jobe plenty to play with. For genuine history fans or the curious alike, this is a fascinating portrait of a complicated woman whose reputation is only the tip of her dramatic iceberg.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston