Poor Caroline

Mon 8th – Sat 20th August 2011


Ellen Marsh

at 10:56 on 21st Aug 2011



After their success with Lady Susan at last year’s festival, Charlotte Productions return with their adaptation of Winifred Holtby’s Poor Caroline. This company is clearly talented and has a clear objective: ‘producing adaptations of forgotten literature’. Poor Caroline tells the story of Caroline Denton-Smyth, who creates a ‘Christian Cinema Company’ with a number of less than interested investors. The play documents the company’s downfall and the relationships of the people involved. It is refreshing to be presented with a period drama that I haven’t already seen too many times, and the company achieve their aim in publicising this little known work by Holtby.

The cast are all excellent, especially Emily Streete, whose portrayal of Caroline reminds me of the wonderful actress Sophie Thompson. Accents are, for the most part, spot-on, though I would have loved to hear even more clipped voices from the cast in true 1920s style.

A major problem with this production is its length – some scenes and plot lines felt unnecessary – and set changes between scenes were irritatingly clunky and time-consuming though very little was being done to the set. This became increasingly annoying when the scene following the set change seemed slightly pointless, as a number of scenes did. I feel the adaptation could have been improved by a decision to be more focused on Caroline and her niece, cutting some of the superfluous actions of other characters that did not have much impact on this central story.

Everything in Poor Caroline is essentially good, but no more than that. The plot is not engaging enough for an hour and ten minutes, and I did find myself checking my watch several times. Still, Charlotte Productions can be proud of what they bring to the Fringe, and I look forward to what they have to offer next year.


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