Rebecca Dunn is a good storyteller; she conveys a convincing socialite who finds herself in a world of espionage. Beginning as a naïve fashion columnist, who ‘leaves politics to the politicians’, Dunn turns this character’s world inside out as she explains how Pamela More discovered the darker secrets behind World War II, spying on Edward VIII, Wallace Simpson and the Germans. Sounds quite good, doesn’t it? Yet, it could have been better.
More herself is excellently portrayed. Her detailed analysis of each individual’s clothing relates exactly to character, delivered with a scathing level of disdain which perfectly establishes the stereotypical socialite of the 1930's and 40's. But the plot itself is difficult to hold onto; too many characters and not enough faces.
Fluff Productions specialises in contemporary pieces fronted by an all-female cast, yet the piece didn’t quite do the concept justice. Whilst Dunn’s accents were impressive, ranging from drawling American to the colloquialisms of her maid, these changes are too subtle, fleeting. More’s interaction with her husband, lover and then her boss, all begin to merge into one. Several scenes are unclear without the help of later explanation. It is just one woman running around the stage without enough props.
The lighting deserves praise, the abruptly changing mood demonstrating the contrast between More’s fashionable and lighthearted world, to the darker side of the encroaching war. This divide quickly begins to close, as the performance progresses. Flickers of humour at the beginning are also extinguished by the end, intentionally helping create an atmosphere of tension. However, this alteration feels less intentional, and more as though Fluff productions could not settle on a genre: mockery of More’s aristocratic ignorance, or the dark shadow the war cast over the entire country. Perhaps it is supposed to show that even More was affected – instead, it feels out of sync.
In short, 'Agent of Influence' is interesting. However, there are several sparks missing, such as the presence of other actors. Also, there is a patronising edge to More's naivety, trying to survive in a patriarchal world. She is portrayed as one step behind the male figures; as though her focus never truly leaves the materialistic world women were believed to belong to in the 1940s. Possibly a reflection of the era, she does lead the tale as though her portrayal of the story is enough – however, such a difficult to follow plot undermines any strength that could be otherwise given to the female character.
A confused, but intimate piece revealing the fragmented life of the 1940s, 'Agent of Influence' could be great with a few tweaks.
Original post: http://edfringereview.com/r/V3uUDEfoQFyFLXsmXDx6yg