Latest posts by Adam Wollerton (see all)
- Theatre review: RENT – 20th Anniversary – St James Theatre, London - 18 December, 2016
- Side Show: The Musical – Review – 4 Vada Stars - 13 November, 2016
- Theatre review: Murder Ballad @ Arts Theatre, London West End - 27 October, 2016
If, like me, you are a fan of Carry On films and real old school comedy, you will absolutely adore this show. It is great to see a decadent dose of class entering the Savoy Theatre this season.
Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound are perfectly cast, as Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson respectively, and play amazingly well off of each other rivalling that of their film counterparts Sir Michael Caine and Steve Martin. The seasoned swing voice of Lindsey combined with the youthful and mischievous tone of Hound emanated class and really brought their characters, the show and the music, to life.
Typically, I will sit in a show and have my notebook at the ready. Indeed, for the first ten minutes of the show I did. But shortly after that I was transfixed on the show and transported to the French Riviera with Mr Jameson and Benson – the fraudulent funsters in their betting plot to win the heart, and initially money, of Christine Colgate (played magnificently by Katherine Kingsley).
When Jameson and Benson turn their money making swindling skill set to another tune to win a £50,000 cash prize from Christine Colgate, the show really picks up a dynamic pace. With scene after scene of comic genius in writing and staging all performed with panache, it is hard not to laugh along and really get engrossed in the show.
This show is so unlike any other on the West End at the moment. I think that’s why it struck the right chord for me. It doesn’t rely on massive belty ballads but instead presents an array of perfectly arranged musical accompaniments. A delightful addition to an already strong storyline and character set.
And although the show is presented as a classic tale that we all know and love, it still has tangible tinges to the modern day with humorous references to the reality of the theatre; cheeky nods to the musical director, an appearance of a singing usher, and melodramatic irony as some of the scene, prop and costume changes take place – including the pivotal introduction of Doctor Schaffhausen (Jameson in disguise) which ends act one. This is repeated at the start of act two with humorous exchange between Benson and Jameson – “Didn’t we already do this part?!” “Yes. I liked it so much we’re doing it again!”
This is one of the first musicals I have seen where I really enjoyed every single scene and was in awe at how the set could change so swiftly and minimally and yet create completely different locations.
But this show isn’t just at merit for its two leading men and con-woman Kingsley. All performers shine in this production. The doting Muriel Eubanks, played by Samantha Bond, is hilarious, especially when coupled with love interest, and Jameson’s (The ‘Prance’) right-hand-man, Andre Thibault (John Marques.)
Choreography wise, the movement just adds to the smooth, swing sensation that is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Lindsay’s embodiment of the sophisticated Mr Jameson could easily be mistaken for Fred Astaire with the ease of which he moves and leads some of the chorus numbers. He is truly a treat to watch and one of the strongest leading men I have observed on the West End to date.
If you’re looking for the next show to watch, make sure it is Scoundrels. This show is the classiest production to hit London this season and really shows what a West End show should be with every aspect resonating class, sophistication, and endless old-school humour. A Dirty Rotten Hit!