Best known for movies such as Atonement and Anna Karenina, Joe Wright has finally got round to directing his first play, and, appropriately, he has chosen Pinero's warm-hearted tribute, written in 1898, to the theatrical medium itself. But, while it makes a perfectly amiable evening, Wright can't help pushing Pinero's faithful re-creation of a past theatrical age to the edge of caricature.
Pinero's play deals with class, change and the enduring power of theatre. It starts by showing Rose Trelawny, the darling of 1860s Sadler's Wells, quitting the stage to marry into the gentry. But once ensconced in Cavendish Square, where she's very much on trial with her fiance's grandfather and great-aunt, she's appalled by the stifling tyranny of upper-class life. Sacrificing her lover, she goes back to the boards only to find her talent has evaporated. Her one hope would seem to lie with an emerging playwright,