Theatre

Untitled @ Finborough, London



cast list
Nichola McAuliffe, Patrick Ryecart

directed by
Pete Cregeen
In 1980 Wallis Simpson died alone in her Paris apartment aged 90, forty-four years after causing one of the biggest upsets in Royal history.

She was buried next to her soulmate, the former King Edward VIII, at the Royal burial ground in Frogmore.

Her simple gravestone read Wallis, Duchess of Windsor.

Untitled, written by Lena Farugia, is about the last years of the infamous Mrs Simpson’s life, described at one time as one of the most hated women in England.
The title of the play refers to the fact that, despite being married to a former King and Duke of Windsor, she was never able to officially use the H.R.H. title. This decision, we learn was communicated cruelly to the newlywed couple on the night of their wedding, by the King and his government.

Untitled opens six years before her death as an old and frail Wallis, played by Nichola McAuliffe, reflects on her life with her one loyal remaining servant, Douglas. It is set in the sitting room of the Villa Windsor, Bois de Boulogne, Paris, where the couple spent the last years of their married lives and Wallis died.

Moving in and out of flashbacks caused by suggested dementia, Wallis contemplates events and the choices she and her husband made for love. Many of these are important romantic scenes between Edward, or David as Wallis refers to him, such as their first meeting in Court and their arguments about the abdication.

Patrick Ryecart takes the roles of both Edward and Douglas as the action flits between past and present. The most interesting and poignant scenes are those between the Duke and Duchess. Like Wallis the audience are haunted by the charming and handsome Duke as he repeatedly appears and disappears.

Through these encounters we learn of his stubborn determination to abdicate despite her attempts to dissuade him. We also gain an insight into her unflinching self-awareness I am not a beautiful woman. I’m nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else. However, despite the mockery and insight into the Royal family rivalries of the late 1930s and 40s we come away knowing nothing more about the couple or relationship than the strength of their feeling for each other.

Farugia peppers the dialogue with Mrs Simpson’s famous one-liners, with the old woman declaring You can never be too rich, or too thing and “The most important thing is to take care of your face. The other end you sit on.” But like the long-suffering Douglas, we’ve heard some of this before and we leave with the same questions left unanswered. The rumours of a love child and Nazi connections are left unexplored, the play simply focusing on the void that the couple found themselves in after the Duke abdicated his crown and, in his words, they drew the drawbridge up behind them.

Ryecart and McAuliffe capture a Prince captivated by a confident American divorcee wonderfully and we are left wondering, like Wallis, why the public love a love story, but rejected one of the most romantic gestures of recent history. Mrs Simpson’s greatest fear, we learn, was dying old and alone, sadly it was to become a reality as she died without her ‘David’, a virtual recluse in 1986.

Despite a brief comparison to the current Prince of Wales and his divorced Duchess; I could give you a title, the Duchess of Cornwall perhaps and the constant presence of the Paparazzi this love story still feels routed very much in the past.



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