I had a fantastic evening, which involved meeting the cast and even learning a bit of one of the dance routines! A full blog post with video will follow shortly but for now please check out my review of the show below.
Sequins, Sauce and Swindling – Five Stars * * * * *
Set in the sunny south of France, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels tell the tale of Lawrence Jameson (Robert Lindsay) and Freddy Benson (Rufus Hound), two con artists with very different approaches to ‘the game’. Suave, swindling veteran Lawrence take the hapless Freddy under his wing and before long the two scoundrels are competing for the riches of Beaumont-sur-Mer.
Harking back to the ‘golden age’ of musicals, this all-singing-all-dancing show mixes glamour, deception, love, friendship, and rivalry, into a whirlwind of laughter and sequins. Lindsay and Hound make a hilarious duo and have the audience on-side from the start, despite their roguish behaviour. Both actors are perfectly cast in their roles and each manages to create a ‘nod and a wink’ relationship with the audience, without ever breaking character. Comic one-liners, subtle innuendo and physical gags are delivered flawlessly and the theatregoers around me were laughing out loud. One or two visual jokes even went awry at times, but the cast had created such a rapport with the audience that this only added to the humour. The supporting roles of Christine (Katherine Kingsley), Muriel (Samantha Bond) and Andre (John Marquez) are equally well cast. Bond adds a certain ‘spice’ to the otherwise demure Muriel, whilst Marquez was able to produce laughter simply by standing quietly on the stage. From a musical perspective, Kingsley in particular displays a stunning vocal range and skilfully mixes serious talent, with a comic delivery.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this show also boasts a highly gifted chorus of singers and dancers. As well as performing high energy dance routines with precision and flair, these guys provide supporting vocals and walk-on roles at different points throughout the show. Synchronisation between the dancers, music and lighting is spot-on and Jerry Mitchell’s versatile choreography teamed with David Yazbek’s music, really drives the momentum of the show.
The set design completes the ‘razzmatazz’ package, featuring lavish, art deco style interiors and a segmented moving stage. Interestingly, many of the set transitions happen with the lights up, during the musical numbers which I found refreshing, as it helped maintain the pace of the story. When the lights did go down, it was often at the click of Lawrence’s fingers, which again tied the whole production together with a slick bow.
The fast paced storyline contains just the right level of complexity, keeping the audience on their toes, whilst allowing them the freedom to sit back and enjoy being entertained. The motives behind Lawrence and Freddy’s relationship was the only element which I found a little confusing. Initially, their focus seems to be Freddy’s apprenticeship in the art of swindling but this soon takes a back seat, when they place bets on who can dupe Christine the quickest. This bet then changes again, a little further into the story. Whilst the set-up could perhaps be a little simpler, the entertainment really comes from the ensuing mayhem, which was so much fun I didn’t really mind how we had arrived at it.
This is a glittering, fun-for-all musical with a hugely talented cast and laughs throughout. To quote the opening number, this is a show that knows how to ‘give them what they want’.
Follow the Scoundrels on Twitter: @ScoundrelsUK
Laughing Buddha UK: @richardlecocq
Writer: Jeffrey Lane Producers: Jerry Mitchell Productions
Director and choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Associate Choreographer: Darren Carnall
Set and Costume Design: Peter McKintosh
Music and Lyrics: David Yazbek
Box Office: 0844 871 7627 Booking