Monday, 22 February 2010


10/2/10, Menier

Unexpectedly wonderful: another triumph for the Menier.

Tamzin Outhwaite (full of fantastic energy with a wonderful light-up-the-back-stalls smile) as Charity, the ever-hopeful dancehall hostess in search of Mr Right. She finds three, all played by the same actor (Mark Umbers). The first is a layabout and a crook who chucks her in the lake before running off with her handbag full of savings; the second is a film star with whom she has a fling before his regular partner returns; the third is a bag of nerves who seems truly nice, but eventually lets her down at the last minuite, claiming he's too screwed up to marry her.

Paul saw it and complained that it's a flawed piece because there's no dramatic progression. At the end Charity is back exactly where she started, older, poorer, presumably wiser (though don't count on it). And he says the songs aren't well enough integrated and don't advance the action.
But what songs! Big Spender, the girls going through the motions of welcoming men to the dancehall robotically, is integrated. I Love Weddings at the end may not advance the plot, and could be sung about any wedding, not just Charity's, but it's a rollicking number and gives the grumpy dancehall boss a number of his own. Only Rhythm of Life doesn't really fit, but since that too is a fantastic number who's complaining?

Once again they mounted a production that filled the tiny Menier stage. There were some fine moments. The girls in their dressing room, wearily preparing for yet another night fending off the advances of lubricious men ("Dancing? We're defending ourselves to music!" in the words of Charity's friend Nicky, a great performance by Josefina Gabrielle, dark-haired temptress who sings Big Spender and rivals Outhwaite for energy). Charity hiding in the (translucent) wardrobe when the second Mr Right's Latin squeeze bursts in on them in the bedroom. The hippy love-in of The Rhythm of Life.

I'm not sure how long the Menier can continue this run of triumphant musical revivals, but we've seen La Cage aux Folles, Sunday in the Park with George and A Little Night Music there in the past two or three years and they've all been in the range top-notch to bloody brilliant.

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