Stanley (Play)

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
By:Pam Gems
Director:John Caird
Sets:Tim Hatley
Costumes:Tim Hatley
Lighting:Peter Mumford
Sound:Freya Edwards
Opened:3/97 at the Circle in the Square
Cast: Antony Sher, Deborah Finlay, Barton Tinapp, Barbara Gerrick, Anna Chancellor, Ken Kliban, Selina Cadell, Peter Maloney, Alison Larkin, Victoria Boothby, Jase Blankfort and Chad Aaron

The winner of three Olivier Awards (the British equivalent of the Tonys), this gripping play recounts 20 years in the life of eccentric English painter Sir Stanley Spencer (1891–1951). Sher as the romantically naïve, childishly self-absorbed and brilliantly talented title character delivers a vivid performance of carnality and confusion. He's the soon-to-be-frayed rope in a relationship tug-of-war between his wife, Hilda (Findlay), and mistress, Patricia (Chancellor), two diametrically different women. He thinks he can juggle two relationships, but his passions collide with his needs, and the triangle soon threatens to break him. Chancellor brings spontaneity to the fascinating but aggrandizing Patricia, one of the season's most delectable villains, while Findlay gives a quiet but powerful performance as the long-suffering Hilda. Director Caird navigates the theater-in-the-round performance with a free-flowing touch, but the romantic saga is too long (nearly three hours) and lurches on benders of self-indulgence and portentousness.

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