No Way to Treat a Lady at the Landor Theatre
Douglas J Cohen’s No Way to Treat a Lady, based on the book and subsequent film of the same name, is a show that asks a great deal. It is a comedy, a thriller and a romance all rolled into one, and the added complication of a score requires a precise and punchy production in order to pull it off. While this new version at the Landor is good fun and shines in parts, it doesn’t provide the spark that would set the production alight.
When the attention-starved son of a celebrated actress becomes frustrated with the ignorance of New York’s press towards him, he embarks on a killing spree in a crazed attempt to win his mother’s posthumous approval. It is up to hapless detective Morris to catch the notorious killer, while at the same time trying to win the heart of a glamorous socialite and summon the courage to move out of the flat he shares with his overbearing mother, the ever-entertaining Judith Paris.
We root for the underdog Morris from the start, who is portrayed endearingly by Graham Mackay-Bruce. Easily the most competent singer, he carries the musical narrative of the show. Kelly Burke is suitably suave and svelte as Sarah, with an air of erudition that complements Mackay-Bruce’s average joe character throughout.
The complex tale, that sees Simon Loughton as the murderous actor with mummy issues flit from Irish priest to Spanish dancer to high-heeled woman, is complicated further by a cluttered and clunky set, squeezed into the Landor’s small space.
The score is on the whole uninspiring, with no real stand-out numbers. There are, however, some touching and honest scenes between Morris and the wealthy, upper-class Sarah that are genuinely warming; The First Move puts courting and killing side by side in a way that knits the the three strands of romance, murder and humour together engagingly.
Yet while there are plenty of laughs, they fail to be matched by the darker side of this thriller that offers, in the end, but a glimmer of tension.
No Way to Treat a Lady is at the Landor Theatre until 9th February 2014. For information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.