Untitled: England’s Greatest Love Story

A king renounces his throne to be with the woman he loves. Doesn’t that just sound like the premise for the most romantic love story of all time? But no, such is the stiff-upper-lip, brush-it-under-the-carpet nature of the British monarchy that the heartbreaking story of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson has been largely forgotten, eclipsed by the more scandalously public  relationship of Diana and Charles. Now there’s a lady they couldn’t push out of the picture.

Untitled, written by Lena Farugia, is a play in which the ‘American whore’, Wallis Simpson, is now old and alone in her home in Paris with a butler, confused in her mind and reliving the story of her past. Nichola McAuliffe delivers an outstanding performance as Wallis Simpson; I was definitely in tears as she depicted the woman growing frailer and weaker towards the end, finally shaking so hard that she had to be tied to a chair.

There is sympathy in here towards both lovers, and their treatment by the rest of the Royal Family is made clear. In this respect, it is lucky that the monarchy refused to get drawn into publicly displaying emotion – instead they silently made and carried out decisions, and actions speak louder than words: the Royal Family refused to attend their eldest son’s wedding. Then there was the lack of invitation to even Edward VIII, let alone Wallis, to the family dinner after his father’s funeral. Followed by the couple’s exile from Great Britain. All pretty devastating stuff, particularly towards the man who decided to bow out rather than risking the British constitution going up in flames by marrying whomever he damn well pleased.

Untitled is at the Finborough theatre in Earl’s Court, a fabulous little fringe venue that seats about 50-odd people.  It’s a great place, making you feel very close to the action and involved in the play. Going up a narrow flight of stairs the venue makes you feel as though you’re about to watch a play in someone’s attic, before it opens out into the soft-benched little room.

It also has a reputation of only ever putting on good stuff, and the hell with the money, which is commendable.  The bar on the ground floor is also good, with a random mix of bright-and-sunny-café cum arty-pub.

This powerful play was an emotional experience, not least because the concept of old-age and the decrepitude that may come with it is something that resounds within us all, and to be confronted with it is always heartbreaking. But there is no denying that this story of love attempting to conquer all is an amazing one, and the performances do great credit to the memory of the woman who defied the monarchy for love and lived alone and outcast for a further 14 years after her husband died.

Untitled runs until March 14. Tuesdays to Saturdays 7.30pm; Sunday matinees 3pm.

Finborough Theatre
118 Finborough Road
SW10 9ED

Box Office: 0844 847 1652

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