A Respectable Widow documents the beginning of the unlikely friendship between Annabelle Love, a respectable English widow, and Jim Dick, a working class Scottish employee of Annabelle’s deceased husband. The twain meet at the funeral. Jim proceeds to swear repeatedly and accidentally and keeps apologising. Initially, Jim fails to realise that this is the precise quality that awakens Annabelle’s interest.
Jim was played with the utmost conviction. Uncomfortable with and confused by Annabelle’s linguistic questions and attentions, Jim becomes frustrated but remains kind throughout. Refusing to be seen as stupid or to be looked down upon because of his nationality or background, Jim provides an appropriate counterpoint to Annabelle, who is embarrassed and bored by her upper class lifestyle. This provides the bonding point. Over the next few weeks of their friendship, they assist each other in various ways, Annabelle helping Jim with a woman he fancies, Jim taking Annabelle to a football game so she can practise her new hobby (swearing).
Annabelle’s behaviour was perhaps less convincing than Jim’s. Whilst Annabelle’s newfound interest in acquiring, scrutinising and practising the art of swearing provides ready comedy, it remained difficult to truly picture and verged on being unbelievable. For this reason perhaps, Joanna Tope’s performance as Annabelle seem a little wooden at times. Tope’s acting style seemed more overdone than the naturalistic portrayal of Jim, but this didn’t stop the production from working. With a free breakfast roll and tea and coffee outside as added perks, this remains a very entertaining, feel-good production about culture, class and language, with moments of comedy gold.