Based on the classic 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ has been revived by director Jerry Mitchell to all it’s former glory and much, much more. Staying true to the original storyline, the audience join Lawrence (Robert Lindsay) and Freddy (Rufus Hound) on their journey to con-artist domination, competing against one another for Miss Christine Colgate’s (Katherine Kingsley) fortune; both in her purse and her pants. Set in the French Riviera for the most part, the musical emits the perfect combination of charm, cheek and side-splitting humour, all undoubtedly owed to the humorous script and genius songbook created by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbeck respectively; a truly entertaining theatre experience and one that reflects the brilliance of what London’s West End is capable of amidst untimely show closures and disarray elsewhere in the industry.
Starring Robert Lindsay (Lawrence), Rufus Hound (Freddy), Samantha Bond (Muriel) and Katherine Kingsley (Christine), there is certainly nothing dirty nor rotten about ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ casting. Where Lindsay delivers the charm and charisma notable of a ‘scoundrel’, Hound simply excels in providing the ‘slapstick’ comedy and consistent humour that the show bases itself on; together, the pair are unstoppable. Whilst the duo are comedically exceptional, the star of Act 1 is unarguably Lizzy Connolly in the role of Jolene Oakes (a blonde and boisterous Oklahoman with an inherited fortune). Her performance of ‘Oklahoma?’ catalyses audience hysteria and together with Lindsay and Hound the trio continue to leave viewers roaring with laughter throughout musical number ‘All About Ruprecht’. Connolly’s vocals were only to be matched by Katherine Kingsley (Christine), who steals the show completely with her stunning voice and outstanding performance. The development of Christine’s character in Act 2 is, perhaps, the best moment of the entire production and Kingsley shines in all aspects of her diverse role. Of all the brilliant musical numbers this show has to offer, none project themselves quite as uniquely as ‘Love is my Legs’ (performed by Hound and Kingsley) and even the toughest of audiences would find it a challenge in keeping a straight face from this number on.
Refreshingly, the musical is not centered around romance although it does contain some endearing moments. Samantha Bond and John Marquez as Muriel (Lawrence’s latest scam victim) and Andre (his loveable French sidekick) provide the perfect touch of romance and passion amidst the comedy and laughter. Their performance of ‘Like Zis, Like Zat’ is both sweet and funny and only adds to, rather than hinders, the comical backdrop built up by the other characters. Marquez, in particular, is perfect in his depiction of his French counterpart and maintains the accent wonderfully throughout his musical numbers.
Lavish in both costumery and set design (Peter McKintosh), the show leaves little to the imagination and spares the audience of any subtlety. Choreographically (Mitchell), especially during ensemble numbers such as ‘Great Big Stuff’ and ‘The More We Dance’ routines only match the slick and polished look and feel of this dapper production. Whilst the audience are thoroughly entertained throughout, none are enjoying themselves more than the cast onstage. Lindsay and Hound engage with the audience and play on personal ‘slip-ups’ throughout; only adding to the humour and brilliance of the production.
With West End ticket prices on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly more important to feel as though you’ve had your ‘money’s worth’ out of a show. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is worth every hard-earned penny paid towards a ticket and, furthermore, will leave you planning a return visit. Get down to the Savoy Theatre and see for yourself!
Photos are copyright of Via Jess.