Posts Tagged ‘La Bete’

Like La Bete (same director and designer), it’s one of the most hyped shows of the year, but again a terrific set and a couple of fine performances isn’t enough to plug the holes in mediocre material.

We don’t often see thrillers these days. Perhaps the genre has had its day? Woman in Black is still running after goodness knows how many years, but that’s probably due to the Mousetrap syndrome – something you have to do if you’re here. This is a comedy-thriller and it’s often funny and occasionally thrilling. It takes a long while to take off though and in the end it’s all much of a muchness. What might be seen as a ‘good night out’ for £25 on tour doesn’t really provide enough value for £50 in the West End.

Rob Howell’s converted New England stable is extraordinary with much detail (if you’re near enough). Simon Russell Beale does deliver another fine performance which is well matched by Jonathan Groff. On the acting front, though, the play is badly let down by a truly dreadful turn from Estelle Parsons which does much to dampen the impact of the final scene. 

‘Well, it’s a bit of fun’ as Rob Brydon’s Keith Barrett might say, but not a particularly satisfying evening in the theatre. Take it or leave it? Well, on balance I think I’d wished I’d left it.

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This was Kander & Ebb’s (Cabaret, Chicago…..) last show; in fact, Ebb ebbed away and died during (but not because of) it! It was nominated for eight Tony’s when it was produced on Broadway in 2007, and won David Hyde Pierce his Tony – rather spookily he was across town making his UK debut in La Bete on the same evening! I think this Guildhall School of Music & Drama production might be its UK premiere.

It’s a comedy whodunnit which takes place on stage and backstage at an out-of-town opening of a Broadway-bound musical in Boston. The inspector who calls turns out to be a musicals fan and there are three murders to solve and a show to put on.

It’s not a great show, but it’s fun. The book and music are just OK but the lyrics are good and it gets a spirited production by Martin Connor. It’s not the best GSMD cast I’ve seen, but there are excellent performances from Fred Lancaster as the cop, Paloma Oakenfold as the producer and Patrick Osborne as the British director.

Well worth catching if you’re interested in musical theatre and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

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