Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Chichester Festival Theatre

Hot on the heels of The Rehearsal next door, another Jeremy Sams show, with another family pile shrouded at the start, and another outbreak of amateur theatricals amongst the aristocracy.
This time it's his new book [with Robert Hudson] for A Damsel In Distress, the wickedly pleasurable cocktail of Wodehouse and Gershwin, based on the Hollywood hit of 1937.
The action switches between the Savoy Theatre and the Marshmortons' Gloucestershire seat. Kicking off withe a formulaic but hugely enjoyable Things Are Looking Up: tap line, upright pian, backstage busy-ness and frocks on rails.
Kitty in the City is the show; its author, George [Richard Fleeshman], seeks a purpose in life, and finds it in the shape of Summer Strallen's Maud, on the run from her formidable aunt [Isla Blair, excellent].

The plot is thin and silly, but is carried triumphantly by a string of memorable Gershwin numbers – Stiff Upper Lip, with more tap dancing, one of the best – and uniformly impeccalbe performances. Desmond Barritt as Keggs, the lugubrious butler, given to quoting the Bard, Nicholas Farrell superb as the Lord of the Manor whose love for his pigs and his roses is eventually shared by Billie [Sally Ann Triplett]. And, stealing the scene in a patisserie extravaganza, David Roberts' delectable French chef.

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