Skip to content

Peggy for You

by on 30 January 2022

Rich by Accident

Peggy for You

by Alan Plater

Hampstead Theatre Original at Hampstead Theatre, until 29th January

Review by Heather Moulson

Well, whose head wouldn’t spin from an insight into the iconic Peggy Ramsey’s office? 

Not to mention the point of view of an overworked secretary, an aspiring playwright and two weathered writers, whose heads must have been spinning like a top.   With this on board, we were already exhausted, but in an invigorating way.   Tamsin Greig, a very natural actor, took on this forceful and complex figure who was one of the leading literary agents of the twentieth century. 

Skilfully recreating the office off St Martins Lane; claustrophobic, of its time, yet still hallowed, and a temple many of us once dreamt of entering, the set is the next best thing to getting a picture of those who could.  Another bonus is having the privilege to see a day in the working life of a very prominent agent. 

Only Christian names of writers were used and referred to.   If like me, you look forward to googling like mad in the interval, forget it.   It is a red herring.   The magical writer and former client of Peggy’s, Alan Plater, assures us that this was a deliberate ploy, and there is nothing to read into these names.  Besides, Peggy apparently called her clients by their surnames.  If anything, Plater is being autobiographical, writing in such beautiful detail about his one-time agent and close friend. 

It was not made clear what period this strong piece was set, presumably the seventies, as it emphasised the Angry Young Man era had past, and was passé. 

Although the very young playwright and the put-upon secretary gave their best, and had a good stage presence, I really felt Tamsin Greig effortlessly out-acted them.  With the exception of the embittered writer, played by Trevor Fox, the supporting cast felt weak. 

The first act went at a frantic pace, and the second half picked it up just as succinctly.  It barely paused, even as sad and shattering news broke, Peggy refusing or trying not break down.  As mentioned, Trevor Fox was marvellous as Henry, the Geordie playwright, who also tells Peggy some earth-shattering news.   

Intelligently written by Alan Plater, and slickly directed by Richard Wilson, the ending tended to dither somewhat and an unnecessary entrance was made for Josh Finan, the first young and naïve playwright.  However, this did not make it any the less enjoyable.   Really worth seeing, even just to look at a bygone age.

Heather Moulson, January 2022

Photography by Helen Maybanks

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: