After the end of the Great War, four women run away to the Italian countryside where they rediscover themselves amid the draping wisteria.
This is the story of “Enchanted April,” a play the Williamsburg Players will present Feb. 1-16.
Director Neil Hollands said the play was adapted from a 1920s novel. However, most people know it from 1980s movie adaption.
In “Enchanted April,” the two main characters, Rose Arnott and Lotty Wilton, leave England to vacation in Italy as a break from their struggling marriages.
“One of them (Rose) is kind of carrying a secret that’s festered and the other one (Lotty)’s husband is just kind of a typical situation where a man doesn’t realize he’s putting all of his stuff before his wife’s interests,” Hollands said.
Hollands thinks audience members will relate to the desire to escape to a new place to get out of a rut.
“That was one of the things I really responded to when I put this show into consideration as one (the Williamsburg Players) should do,” Hollands said.
While Rose and Lotty are both looking to go on vacation, they cannot afford the trip alone — so they recruit a young society woman, Lady Caroline Bramble, and an old widow, Mrs. Graves, to come with them and defray the vacation’s expenses.
Alissa Gaithe, the actress playing Lotty Wilton, said she likes how the women end up bonding on the trip.
“All these women coming together and kind of finding themselves,” Gaithe said. “They all have their own troubles, so when they get to Italy there’s a little bit of butting heads in the way that things were imagined don’t really happen — but then they grow really close and become really great friends while they are there.”
Hollands said eventually, the women’s husbands follow them to Italy.
“It all turns out well for the relationships in the end, but at the same time the women start to come into themselves, which starts to make the relationships work again,” Hollands said.
“Personally, I believe if people don’t take of themselves first they’re not good in relationships most of the time. I’ve had that experience of tucking myself in someone else’s needs for the purposes of a relationship, thinking you’re doing the noble thing, but it doesn’t really make the relationship work better in the long run. You end up resenting each other or something.”
Amy Stallings, who plays Rose Arnott, said she finds her character relatable because while Rose is trying on a brave face, she isn’t handling her situation as well as she thinks.
“The most difficult part of this show has been developing my character in a believable way,” Stallings said. “What (Rose) has been through in her life is something I feel a lot of women in the audience will either have experienced themselves or know people who have experienced (it), and I want to present her character as truthfully as I can.”
While the story’s characters are made to feel realistic, Stallings said the play has an almost fairy tale-like ending.
“During this time of the year where everybody wants to slow down and take a deep breath before the summer kicks in, this is that kind of show,” said Jessi DiPette, who plays Lady Caroline. “You’ll walk out feeling happy and uplifted and get a little hope for the coming months of craziness.”
Want to go?
The play will run from Feb. 1-16 at the James-York Play House, 200 Hubbard Lane. Performances are 8 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16; and 2 p.m. on Feb. 2, 9, 16.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for students and children. Buy tickets at williamsburgplayers.org or by calling the box office at 229-0431.