In the 2003 Hollywood film version, Colin Firth played Vermeer, with Scarlett Johansson starring as his servant girl Griet (the inspiration for the painting). In David Joss Buckley’s stage version, directed by Joe Dowling, the parts are taken by Adrian Dunbar and Kimberley Nixon (pictured). The cast also features Lesley Vickerage as Vermeer’s jealous wife Catherina, Niall Buggy as his lascivious patron, Sara Kestelman, Maggie Service, Jonathan Bailey and Flora Spencer-Longhurst.
First night critics were pretty much unanimous in their assessment of the play as being “civilised” and “well acted” but lacking any real sense of purpose. And Buckley’s “conventional” script populated by “cheap gags” failed to placate the poisoned pens, as some critics went for the jugular with their dismissal of the story as the “stuff of which TV soaps are made”. However, Kimberley Nixon and Adrian Dunbar escaped relatively unscathed, Nixon’s “sweetly innocent” Griet and Dunbar’s “perfectly decent” Vermeer proving a match for Johansson and Firth.
- by Theo Bosanquet