Theatre

Reviewed: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels @ Savoy Theatre, London

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels feels quite at home at the opulent Savoy Theatre, bolstered by its credentials as a throwback to the musical comedies of the Art Deco era. There is something gorgeously retro about this show and what it may lack in cutting edge set pieces, it more than makes up for with pure glitz and glamour.

Based on the 1988 film of the same name, the musical is set on the French Riviera, where successful con artist Lawrence Jameson (Robert Lindsay) is making a living by fleecing divorced heiresses out of their millions. When young amateur Freddy Benson (Rufus Hound) arrives, Lawrence is challenged to take him under his wing and teach him the tricks of the trade. That is until the arrival of a well-to-do American businesswoman prompts a battle between the two to see who can pocket her cash first.

There’s plenty to love here, with much of the comedy coming from Lawrence and Freddy’s ongoing skirmish. Robert Lindsay is in his element, oozing charm and sophistication from the off – his opening sequence includes a nifty hat trick that is reminiscent of some of the Rat Pack’s best moments. Rufus Hound, meanwhile, is suitably crass as the less quaffed Freddy – a role made famous by Steve Martin in the film version – and is surprisingly adept when performing some of the score’s more challenging musical numbers.

Elsewhere, Katherine Kingsley, as the conmen’s target for subterfuge, is simply glowing; and there’s also a sweet romantic subplot – an addition to the source material – that provides the wonderful Samantha Bond and the gorgeous John Marquez with more to sink their teeth into. Their post-coital balcony scene is particularly excellent in its execution.

Special mention has to go to Lizzy Connolly as Jolene, who, despite only appearing in two scenes, almost steals the show. Her ‘Oklahoma?’ parody is exceptionally wild; leaving the audience in hysterics and frankly exhausted by its sheer exuberance.

If there’s one snag, it’s that it’s a shame this isn’t an original story, given that if you’ve seen the movie you’ll already be aware of the twist at the end – happily made all the more punchy thanks to the glorious number that accompanies it here. Nonetheless, the show is simply beguiling: the score soothes, the script hits the mark, and whole thing breezes by with laugh-out-loud moments from start to finish. A definite must-see.

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