Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
Although a great deal of research has gone into the Eighteenth Century and the dress of the era, at this point in the process it has become of most importance to explore the chosen era of our production; 1929.
When costume designing, I’ve found it useful to have a constant referral point to help me keep within our chosen period. The Handbook of English Costume in the Twentieth Century 1900 – 1950 by Alan Mansfield & Phillis Cunnington has aided all of my decisions so far since our decision to set The Lying Valet in 1929. As well as this book, I have found it useful to research recent depictions of the 1900’s such as ITV’s Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge. These were two sources that I discussed in our design presentation last week. With each character I tried to give an authentic image of 1920’s attire then, I compared it against a current representation and, lastly, providing a costume closely resembling the dress. Using Kitty as an example, I was able to show my group exactly what ideas and research I had collated using a mood board of research…
I made time to sketch each character to make sure I had not missed out any important details. Doing this helped me polish down exactly what costume I needed to hire or make. It made the job of costume hiring departments much easier as they could see exactly what I required:
From studying the text closely I have found many farcical moments that can be enhanced by detailed costume decisions. An example of this could be demonstrated in Gayless’ and Sharp’s eveningwear. This formal attire was adhered to closely and it was somewhat humiliating to sport anything out of that social bracket. Missing accessories such as a bow tie or a tailcoat would not go unnoticed. It is specifically mentioned in the text that Sharp is down to his waistcoat.
The size of their clothes was another factor that I closely considered. Wearing larger sizes could easily accentuate Gayless’ and Sharp’s slim frames and play on their constant hunger for food. Opposing this, I also contemplated having them wear clothes a size too small. This would highlight their financial state and inability to keep up with the tailoring of their clothes.
A few ideas followed this, including Melissa’s disguise costume when she dresses up as Mrs Gadabout’s “French Nephew”. Similar to Gayless, I could equally demonstrate her financial position through costume. Our fashion was very much influenced by the French and their dress at the time was flawless and expensive. It would be comical to have Melissa’s costume upstage Gayless’ as she can afford clothes he cannot. It would also be worthwhile playing on her interpretation of a Frenchman’s fashion, i.e. garish coloured bow tie and shoes.
Having had a successful visit to York Theatre Royal, Dress Circle of York and West Yorkshire Playhouse Costume Hiring Departments, I am hoping to have all actors fitted into their costumes in early week 7. This gives me time to make more detailed decisions that enrich the comical elements of each character.