Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at New Wimbledon Theatre
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is everything that it promises to be – a show-stopping music hall ensemble. It is an all-singing, all-dancing, all-sequins and sparkle- comedy crowd-pleaser.
We open on a con-man (Michael Praed) making his way through the women of the French Riviera. After meeting another scam-artist (Noel Sullivan) on a train, the two become embroiled in a bet over who can trick the charming and vulnerable Christine Colgate’s (Carley Stenson) out of her inheritance It is certainly low-brow and, there are some scenes that are wince-worthy – (“are we really still laughing at this?”) – however, writer Jeffrey Lane stays true to the film by honouring the humour throughout.
The whole cast have perfected awkward silences and faux pas, as the ensemble provide an energetic comedic accomplice to the main characters. The flawless timing achieved by the performers is outstanding, a technique director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell uses to its full potential through purposefully faulty set transitions and incredible dance routines.
Praed plays his part with style, humour and likeable egotism – a hard combination to pull off, but does so skilfully. Gary Wilmot’s corrupt police officer-cum-deadpan sidekick maintains a staple comedic influence. His relationship with Muriel Eubanks (Geraldine Fitzgerald), the desperate-to-be-entertained and sinfully rich lady, provides an appealing love interest amongst the dirty rotten scoundrels that the play promises. Wilmot and Praed’s chemistry is palpable, which unfortunately cannot be said of Noel Sullivan as Freddy Benson. It is hard to separate Freddy’s character from Steve Martin, who created the role with his characteristic tongue-in-cheek farcical humour; Sullivan doesn’t quite hit it – unlike the stellar notes in some of his solos. Carley Stenson’s vocal ability shines through as she delivers each song with impressive gusto and soul.
David Yazbeck’s music as a whole is a divider. As instrumentals go, the songs lend themselves wonderfully to an energetic and expertly choreographed piece. However, the lyrics are lacklustre and their sole purpose seems to be to make the show a musical. An exception is the fantastic Oklahoma belle Jolene Oakes (Phoebe Coupe) whose knee-raising, tempo-teasing, gun-blazing Oklahoma tribute has the audience’s sides splitting in raucous laughter and works to showcase the character better than any dialogue could have.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is on at New Wimbledon Theatre from 21st until 24th October 2015, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch a trailer for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels here: