Radical reworkings of big budget musicals are quite the thing nowadays, with glitzy sets, costumes and chorus numbers jettisoned in favour of emotional intensity.

It's a marmite approach with critics delighted not to have to sit through more jazz hands and heel-clicking, while £200-a-seat ticketholders are perhaps less impressed with paying to see four chairs and a brick wall.

Here, Andrew Lloyd Webber's tale of brutal old Hollywood has been given an edgy stark monochrome makeover by auteur director Jamie Lloyd, who previously turned Cyrano de Bergerac into a modern dress rap battle to electrifying effect.Ham & High: Grace Hodgett Young as Betty and Tom Francis as Joe in Sunset BoulevardGrace Hodgett Young as Betty and Tom Francis as Joe in Sunset Boulevard (Image: Marc Brenner)

Liberally featuring the tricksy sometimes irritating use of filming and back projection, his project is helped by the aptness of the source material; a film noir about desperate wannabes, that retains some of Billy Wilder's original zingers: 'I am big it's the pictures that got small!'

Lloyd fashions an intense, creepy thriller from a story that is, after all, narrated by a corpse; penniless, cynical screenwriter Joe Gillis who literally crashes into the mansion of faded silent movie star Norma Desmond and becomes her kept lover.

He's a great shot maker; arc lights, swirling smoke and strobe suggest the old Hollywood effects, credits roll on screen at beginning and end, a car chase is pure noir, and an underused chorus sing of their desperation for fame - here everyone is ready for their close up with Mr DeMille.Ham & High: Tom Francis as Joe Gillis in Sunset BoulevardTom Francis as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard (Image: Marc Brenner)

Nicole Scherzinger is convincingly unhinged, but also heartbreakingly vulnerable as the monstrous narcissist created by Hollywood, then plunged into madness when she's cast aside for getting old.

Lloyd-Webber's score veers from the emotive cinematic orchestration of the title song, to Scherzinger's plaintive refrain New Ways to Dream, and the powerful As If We Never Said Goodbye.

There's a wild-eyed hamminess to both Norma and her unsettling factotum Max, (David Thaxton) that is dispelled when he recalls her arrival in La La Land aged 16 - a dancer embodies her as an achingly young desirable ingenue.Ham & High: Sunset Boulevard runs at The Savoy Theatre in the West EndSunset Boulevard runs at The Savoy Theatre in the West End (Image: Marc Brenner)

At times the intensity slackens, the pace slows, and you long for a dance number. The front-on delivery of lines and filmed duologues does not favours to characterisation or clarity of storytelling notably in the relationship between Joe (Tom Francis) and budding scriptwriter Betty. (Grace Hodgett Young Schaffer) 

But in the final scenes, which still come as a shock, he shows his self-loathing at his abandoned dreams and acquiescence to life in a gilded cage.

Sunset Boulevard runs at The Savoy Theatre until January 6.