‘The Dressing Book’ – Theatre with The Rudes in a beautiful circus tent
  • Helen Gardens, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne
    BN20 7XL
  • Wednesday 7th August, 7:30pm - Until Sunday 11th August, 10:00pm
Great original theatre in a beautiful circus tent by the sea! It is both an hilarious comedy, but equally poetic and tender. Chairs are provided but bring a cushion. Come early and have a picnic in Helen Gardens. And there’s superb jazz in the afternoons! The climax of The Rude Mechanical Theatre’s Co national tour.

Set in Tunbridge Wells in 1795, Maybelline has a dilemma. The wife, now widow, of Sir John Rump MP, was bounding up her path in her durable bombazine widow’s weeds, quite visibly without a calling card! There had been a spat about a gown, examples of which both women had worn to The Pantiles Annual Ball in Tunbridge Wells. Mrs Rump was furious! And would have made the point that very night but for the fact that Sir John had been shot through the heart in a duel with his mistress’s husband. Distracted by the obsequies her rage had been bottled up, but now ‘dear Jack’ was safely in the ground she was about to explode like Vesuvius itself. But Maybelline would not give up her claim to the gown lightly because that night she had met Edward, a doctor from Sevenoaks, and the trace of his presence still lingered on its sleeve where he had daringly touched her arm. She had carefully recorded the facts in her dressing book, where she chronicled in her tiny, elegant hand all her encounters - and the gowns that she had worn. The impossible possibilities. The pathways of her life always not quite crossing. Thwarted by social obligation, or time, or geography. The play demonstrates how social obligation, especially for women, imprison us, but needn’t if we are brave. Through a process of ‘magic realism’ the action changes to the 1960’s and Maybelline’s clothes, which had been her prison, now set her free.

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