DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS
Brentwood Operatic Society at Brentwood Theatre
It’s a fine old story, but this musical version, by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek – an uneasy mix of period charm and crude, edgy humour – needs a very slick and glitzy production to make it work. And Louise Byrne successfully provides it, within the limitations of the Brentwood stage, making for a very entertaining evening.
The setting is simple and versatile, with a raised balcony under which Max Harris’s excellent little band sits, very much a part of the action.
An accomplished company, ensemble and principals alike, and some fine singing, too, making the best of some fairly forgettable numbers.
The show opens with a quartet of French maids – the action is set on the Riviera – and the chorus have a deal of fun as hotel guests, gamblers, Oklahomans and tourists.
The scoundrels of the title are Lawrence, a suave, laid-back swindler, played with a fine sense of style by Martin Harris, though it was perhaps hard to imagine him as a Man of Destiny or the stuff of female dreams. He shone in his disguise as the “Vienna sausage” - the memorable moment where he simply stands, feather poised, was a measure of his dramatic talent. The contrasting other half of this odd couple, the “gorilla en croute” Freddy, was a very physical, very funny Allister Smith. They meet their match in Kate Henderson’s Christine – the Soap Queen – a warm, sunny persona till she shows her true con-woman colours as the Jackal.
Nice work from Lisa Harris as Muriel – her What Was A Woman To Do was a musical high – and Ian Southgate as André, joining her in a lovely old-fashioned song-and-dance duet.
production photograph: Claire Collinson