Dirty Rotten Scoundrels**** (Savoy Theatre)

Posted: March 21, 2014 in Theatre

photo-77The best chance that any new musical seems to have of making it to the West End stage right now is for it to be adapted from a successful film. The producers of this one were taking no chances at all, because their story of a suave English confidence trickster and his younger American apprentice has already been made into not one but two films – firstly 1n 1964 (entitled Bedtime Story) with David Niven and Marlon Brando, and then in 1988 with Michael Caine and Steve Martin. The setting is the French Riviera in its heyday, a millionaires’ playground which provides rich pickings for the devious pair. As soon as the curtain rises, it is clear that we are in for a real treat for the eye and rarely can a show and the venue in which it is playing have been so well matched; the opulent art deco sets always look as if they are an extension of the Savoy theatre and the luxury hotel above it. Robert Lindsay is perfect as the vain, over-confident trickster, but he is an actor who can play this sort of comedy sleepwalking. The big revelation is Rufus Hound who, as the American, matches Lindsay step for step and they make a memorable comic duo. Katherine Kingsley and Samantha Bond as their glamorous victims and John Marquez as a corrupt police officer are also excellent. Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, the production is slick and lively, rarely flagging. Jeffrey Lane’s book and David Yazbek’s lyrics are witty and inventive, producing several hilarious comedy sequences developed from the two films. The one sour note is Yazbek’s score which offers varied and catchy rhythms but, melodically, never rises above the ordinary. As a result, this show can be described as arguably the funniest comedy to hit town since One Man Two Guvnors, but a top drawer musical? Not quite.

Performance date: 19 March 2014

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