W. Somerset Maugham's The Circle, voted one of the 100 best plays of the 20th Century by London's National Theatre, ends its run on South Coast Repertory Theatre's mainstage Oct. 7. Carole Shelley and Paxton Whitehead star as ex-wife and husband in the social satire on Victorian mores, which began performances Aug. 31 in Costa Mesa, California. Warner Shook (The Kentucky Cycle) directs.
When Lady Kitty (Shelley), her new husband Porteus (William Biff McGuire) and her ex-husband Clive (Whitehead) come together, they can hardly deal with their own complicated feelings. Their children are going through the exact same web of twisted relationships, but the younger generation has the advantage of being able to learn from their elders' mistakes. Today, Maughn is best known for his novels "Of Human Bondage," "The Moon and Sixpence" and "The Razor's Edge," although in his time, his plays, including Lady Frederick, East of Suez, The Constant Wife and For Services Rendered were quite popular.
Shelley won a Tony Award for The Elephant Man and was nominated for Absurd Person Singular and Stepping Out. She most recently appeared as Frau Schneider in the Roundabout Theatre's revival of Cabaret. Englishman Whitehead is often remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes in Crucifer of Blood, although other recent performances include A.E. Houseman in The Invention of Love in Chicago and A Suite in Two Keys Off Broadway.
Also in the cast are Nancy Bell as Elizabeth, Rebecca Dines (Bay Area Critics Circle Award winner for As Bees in Honey Drown) as Anna, John Hines (Labor Day) as Arnold, McGuire (the original production of South Pacific) as Porteous and Douglas Weston (The Beard of Avon) as Edward Luton.
The design team features Ralph Funicello (sets), Walker Hicklin (costumes), York Kennedy (lights) and Michael Roth (original music and sound). Tickets are $19-$52. South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. For reservations, call (714) 708-5555. South Coast Repertory is on the web at http://www.scr.org.
— By Christine Ehren