Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spectacle and smut: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

There probably isn't a more glamorous and fun night out on the West End at the moment than with the current production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels playing at the Savoy Theatre on the West End. Everything about it is big, broad and lavish. The set piece numbers, the costumes and the jokes.

But most memorable is the star turn by Katherine Kingsley as the heiress that the two confidence men - Freddy and Lawrence - played by Rufus Hound and Robert Lindsay try to con. At times the show feels that it could be easily played as a three-hander as Hound, Lindsay and Kingsley are on stage for most of the time and so much fun to watch.

This show is no minimalistic production. There are several big and elaborate dance numbers - just in the first act. Perhaps there is a more economical show within the source material that might help give the piece a snappier pace, but even at its current lavish abundance, it still makes for great entertainment.


Based on the movie of the same name which starred Michael Cain, Steve Martin and Glenne Headly, the musical closely follows the story of the film and set on the French Riviera.

The show adds a little more subplot with one of Lawrence's former marks trying to return back to him and the local chief of police distracting her. When the supporting characters are played by Samantha Bond and John Marquez they are so much fun to watch and work so well together it is easy to overlook that this sub-plot seems a distraction from the main story (and no doubt a device to give the three principals a chance to come up for air).

It is hard to distinguish the exact time period as the cultural references and style of the production jump about, but the music by David Yazbek is a clever pastiche of Henry Mancini and the cool swing style of that era. While it often oozes sophistication with songs that could be musical standards, there are flashes of character appropriate smut with lyrics about having success "pouring out my ass".

I caught the show in preview and suspect that some of the issues around audibility of the singing have been resolved. The lyrics are too witty and smutty to be left inaudible as along with the energy levels of the principals it is key to the enjoyment of the show.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is playing at the Savoy Theatre, which with its art deco interior seems to complement the action on stage perfectly. Look out for discounts at the usual outlets.

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Photos: Production images