Theater News Online
free issue
London Theatre Reviews
NY Theater Reviews
LTN Recommendations
NYTN Recommendations
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
London Theatre Archives
NY Theater Archives
Latest New York News
Latest London News
NY News Archives
London News Archives
Peter Filichia's Monday Quiz
Dining and Travel
London Theatre Listings
NY Broadway Listings
Off-Broadway Listings
London Tickets
Advertise with us

Subscribe
Renew
Give a Gift


Logo

Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

 
PRESENT LAUGHTER
at the Old Vic

FATALLY CHARMING
By SAM MARLOWE

  Abdul Salis, Andrew Scot and Sophie Thompson/ Ph: Manuel Harlan

How do you define charisma? What is the special quality that makes some individuals impossible to resist, however badly they behave – that draws others to them, that confers a golden glow on the chosen few admitted to their inner circle? We’ve all encountered it, and we can’t, try as we might, manufacture it – but we know it when we see it, and here it is, embodied by Andrew Scott, and utterly glorious. Scott – whom theatre-goers have recognised as a blazing talent for years, but who is now white-hot thanks to his turn as the “Sexy Priest” on TV’s Fleabag – plays Garry Essendine, a glamorous matinee idol facing a midlife crisis, in Noel Coward’s bittersweet, semi-farcical 1939 comedy.
 
It’s well established that the work was, to a certain extent, a self-portrait – and Scott and director Matthew Warchus together decided to bring the sexual ambiguity latent in the play to the forefront with some deft gender-switching. So, Joanna Lyppiatt, the predatory wife of a theatrical producer who sets her sights on Garry in the original, here becomes Joe, a virile, smoothly Italianate stud played by Enzo Clienti. It’s a shrewd move that liberates the subtext and marvellously lubricates a piece that can creak, tempering its whiff of misogyny and sitting more comfortably in our own less rigid times. And Scott is nothing short of miraculous as Garry, effortlessly elegant, fatally charming and – when the whirlwind of admirers abates, and the manic energy of the performance that dominates his life, offstage and on, eventually winds down – startlingly, devastatingly sad.
 
Rob Howell’s designs, sumptuously lit by Tim Lutkin, ensure that the staging looks delicious. Garry’s home, in which the entire play is set, is a chic art deco pad well equipped with the multiple doors that facilitate the increasingly manic comings and goings. And the costumes swish and shimmer, all silks and flowing silhouettes. Scott wears them impeccably, gliding, pratfalling and scurrying like an exceptionally elegant toddler, a bundle of diffuse energy, his ego-driven want and need in rebellion against the ageing of his own, freshly-turned-40 body. While his behaviour might seem impish and irresponsible, it’s clear that his hangers-on demand too much from him. Like blood-lusting vampires, they adoringly suck him dry. And when the intricate machine of Warchus’ brilliantly paced production winds down, we see the desolation and deep loneliness behind Garry’s dazzling display.
 
Sophie Thompson is wonderfully wry and a mistress of tone and timing as Garry’s seasoned, unshockable secretary Monica. And Indira Varma is serenely poignant as his ex-wife, Liz, who has never quite succeeded in leaving him. But the evening is Scott’s, and his is a performance of unassailable intelligence, wit and allure. Resistance is futile.

 


SUBSCRIBE TO New York Theater News
SUBSCRIBE TO London Theater News

SCHEDULE UPDATES -
Yes, Prime Minister contracts its run, while A Chorus Line expands its own.
POWERHOUSE OF THEATRE - After 11 years as the Almeida Theatre's artistic director, Michael Attenborough is stepping down to focus on directing. 

SONGS FROM THE HEART - Once the Tony-Award winning musical is set to hit London in January.


Wine, Fruit, and Gourmet Gift Baskets.
Privacy Notice   |   Front Page
Copyright © TheaterNewsOnline.com. All Rights Reserved.