Peggy For You by Alan Plater is funny, tender, and forgiving. It starts off as a humorous sketch but soon gains weight when Ramsay’s cruelty becomes apparent

You can count on Peggy

Hampstead Theatre London             Jusqu’au 29 January            2hrs 30mins 


Fans of theatre plays will enjoy this fictional account of Peggy Ramsay’s life. She was a highly regarded play agent, who died in 1991. She was the one who made 1960s a golden age of new playwriting.

Her passion for new work was infectious and she would give her clients verdicts that they didn’t want. ‘It’s very well written but that’s possibly part of the problem,’ is among the one-liners she dispensed without fear or favour.

Peggy’s clients included Joe Orton, Alan Ayckbourn, Willy Russell, David Hare and also the late Alan Plater, whose funny, entertaining play this is.

Tamsin Greig (above) brings to the role her gorgeous voice, an effortless imperiousness and a trick of hitching up her skirts while gassing away

Tamsin Greig, above, brings her beautiful voice and effortless imperiousness to the role. She also has a knack of pulling her skirts up while gassing away

The original performance was 22 years old. Maureen Lipman was the eccentric and monstrous agent whose office it is.

Tamsin is Tamsin’s voice.

Plater shows us a decidedly non-feminist agent who reckoned her male clients didn’t need wives as they can get drip-dry shirts, and who thought all Northerners are ‘born in a huff’ and lived in the same street.

The second half of what seems like a funny sketch becomes more serious when the victim is made to feel cruel. The news of the suicide (off-stage), of a client is met with little sympathy. Peggy sums up: ‘He was a writer, he burnt out, he stopped writing.’

You think she was thinking with a wintry chill. But Peggy’s view was that she represented the writer’s talent, not the writer.

The play, which is funny and tender and forgiving, was directed by Richard Wilson (aka Victor Meldrew), and features a great cast.

Josh Finan is the raw writer recruit, Danusia Samal the long-suffering office secretary, and there’s superb work from Trevor Fox as the flat-cap Northern playwright who, out of frustration, finally abandons Peggy.

But not before she’s got him to lay her new office carpet.