THESE are not people who are easy to like, pampered and cosseted individuals cosily insulated from the gathering storm of the late 1930s.

Nevertheless, Evelyn Waugh’s spiritual odyssey through upper class life retains its allure down the decades as some of the characters find redemption while others do not.

Waugh based his epic on Worcestershire’s Madresfield Court, plainly viewing the immortal stones of this stately pile with much the same awe as he beheld its inhabitants.

But how do you adapt for the stage a story in which the architectural excess almost eclipses the human profligacy? The answer is that you don’t even try.

And this is why director Damian Cruden and Sara Perks’ minimalist ‘sliding doors’ design succeeds so effectively. Add to this composer Christopher Madin’s brooding, ethereal score and the dream-soaked ambiance is complete.

Brian Ferguson’s role as the permanently bemused Charles Ryder fits him as comfortably as the bespoke beige suit he wears for the duration of the play, his smug middle class certainties completely thrown off course by the aristocratic waster Sebastian Flyte, played with hedonistic aplomb by Christopher Simpson.

The stoic Ryder is further confused by the family’s reliance on the Catholic Church, presumably in the hope that Father Mackay (Nick Blakeley) will somehow smooth things over with head office when the day of reckoning looms.

However, it’s the multi-tasking Shuna Snow who really peps up this endless round of pleasure and idleness, performing some pretty nifty changes from Bridey Flyte, Kurt the German, Rex Mottram and back again in less time than it takes to mix the next cocktail.

And what a glorious voice, too… a sort of cross between Prince Charles and Mr Cholmondeley-Warner. Fabulous.

Brideshead Revisited runs until Saturday (June 4).

John Phillpott