Friday 6 December 2019

Ladies first in this soap opera ­revolution

Aisling Loftus as Sonya in the BBC's War and Peace
Aisling Loftus as Sonya in the BBC's War and Peace

John Boland

In the fourth instalment of Rebellion (RTÉ1), demure medical student Lizzie spelt it out to army officer Stephen, whom she'd left standing at the altar a few days earlier when she decided to join the insurgents.

"This is bigger than us, Stephen", she informed him. "Have you not seen the state of this country?" She didn't even mention the state of her wedding apparel from tending to the wounded or having just snogged socialist revolutionary Jimmy before both of them surrendered.

Meanwhile, senior British official Charles returned to his imposing Dalkey mansion, which was now housing both his haughty wife Vanessa and his pregnant mistress May. Inquiring about the latter, he was told by the maid that she was sick. "With what?" he asked.

"With what she shouldn't have been doing without a ring on her finger," the uppity maid replied.

Vanessa was sick, too, though only of Charles's infidelity, and that didn't stop her entering his study, removing her negligee and mounting him on the sofa.

"Vanessa, I won't leave you," he murmured, and, shure, why would he, even if five minutes later he was saying the exact same thing to mistress May?

Oh yes, I almost forgot, Patrick Pearse and some of his fellow revolutionaries got executed, though that happened off screen so that you wouldn't be distracted from the main action.

The soap opera ends tomorrow night.

However, there are two more episodes of War and Peace (BBC1), which is a pleasure to look at even if there's been far too much compression both of character and story in a series that should have run for 10 episodes rather than six.

Still, in last Sunday night's episode, Irish actress Jessie Buckley continued to impress as Marya, Jim Broadbent once again seized his moments as her irascible father and Aisling Loftus was a poignantly lovely Sonya (inset). The main men haven't been as arresting, though both Paul Dano as Pierre and James Norton as Andrei have grown into their roles. This is soap opera, too, but of an upmarket kind.

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