Theatre review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre
- Credit: Archant
Yet another classic film-turned-musical hits the West End, but unlike recent turkey Fatal Attraction, this story of conmen peddling tall tales to heiresses in a fantasy French Riviera is ripe for the razzle-dazzle jazz-hands treatment.
Nor is its derivativeness problematic in a production that celebrates and winks at tradition, borrowing liberally from The Producers’ zany screwball and Guys and Dolls’ charming moral relativism, vaudevillian slapstick, Noël Coward-esque acerbic one-liners, Cole Porter and the French chanson, and lavish MGM setpieces.
Director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell juggles sublimely silly throwback and slick postmodern pastiche: the fourth wall is broken in between soft-shoe shuffles, and if French maids wiggle, and bellhops flea hop, they do so ironically.
Consummate entertainer Robert Lindsay is perfectly suited to this balancing act, committed to every aspect of his swindling lothario: debonair, Rat Pack suavity, exaggerated alter egos, and brief moment of weary introspection. Both crooning and dancing are understated, but effortless.
Partner-in-crime Rufus Hound embraces the rumpled oafishness of the American upstart, and while his clowning outweighs his singing, he produces some real treats, including a hysterical series of escalating reaction shots, brash hymn to consumerism and spoof ballad. Crucially, his warm comic chemistry with Lindsay gets us through the loopier narrative twists.
Katherine Kingsley is accomplished but somewhat generic as the credulous mark, while Lizzy Connolly’s storming Oklahoma! parody stops the show. Classy Samantha Bond is elegant in her Fred n Ginger romance with John Marquez’s droll Frenchman (comedy accents abound), and their morning-after dirty talk is a highlight.
- 1 Nine of London's best vegan restaurants to try this Veganuary
- 2 How the battle for Hampstead Heath inspired the National Trust
- 3 Guilty: Woman stirred up racial hatred with social media posts on Grenfell
- 4 Fire brigade extinguish St Pancras station electrical fire
- 5 Ashling Murphy: Camden pays tribute to murdered primary school teacher
- 6 Drug runner caught at Euston with heroin in underwear jailed for four years
- 7 Hampstead retail site snapped up for £7m by property firm
- 8 North London road and rail disruptions in the week ahead
- 9 The story of a pond returning to Hampstead Heath
- 10 How a stray Hampstead cat changed the life of artist Louis Wain
David Yazbek’s amiable score meanders, but both his witty lyrics and Jeffrey Lane’s jam-packed book have bite – at least when clearly enunciated.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has no urgent message or profound characterisation, but I defy you to leave the theatre without a grin plastered across your face.
Until November 29.
Rating: Four stars