Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
This is random casting: Michael Praed, once a household name in ITV’s 80’s adaptation of Robin Hood, causing as much of a furore in his day as Poldark’s Aidan Turner; Noel Sullivan who first came to light as one fifth of the hugely successful but ill-fated pop-stars Hearsay; and Mark Benton who has, to date, starred in a colossal amount – theatre and television. (Credits as diverse as Richard III, Inside No9, Waterloo Road and, one of my favourites, Early Doors).
I wasn’t too sure what to expect or indeed how these 3 could even share a stage.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in its first incarnation was a film about two con-artists who deem to settle their rivalry by betting on which one of them is able swindle a young heiress out of a fortune first. Based on the movie Bedtime Story, it starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin, inarguably huge shoes to fill.
From the first announcement that you are now in the old fashioned yet swanky resort along the French Riviera of Beaumont Sur Mer, you are given the hint you are somewhere special.
Michael Praed, still incredibly handsome, in a nice quirk of fate (some of you will be old enough to remember his role as royalty from the obscure Moldavia in Dynasty) plays the master swindler Laurence Jameson under the guise of the sophisticated Prince. He is aided in his ventures by a Police Commissioner of questionable morality Andre Thibault (Mark Benton) who advises him of a contender to his ‘throne’. Cue Noel Sullivan as the young chancer, Freddy Benson.
What happens next? Well there are two types of stage production in my view, the type that make you fidgety, longing for the interval and then there is the other type. The type that makes you wish you had said yes to that childhood tap dance lesson, the type that makes you want to jump up on stage and belt out a tune!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is the definitely of the latter. You quickly find the casting not as random as you had first imagined. From the seasoned pro’s to the young new comers, these guys know exactly what they are doing. Too many film-to-stage adaptations fall disappointedly flat. This hits the mark. On the head.
There are surprises all the way through, and they are pleasant ones. The stunningly strong singing voices of Michael and co-star Phoebe Coupe as Jolene Oakes. Carly Stenson, once of Hollyoaks as the heiress Christine Colgate. Scenes not in the movie but these only add and in no way detract. Laugh out loud scenes, expertly executed by Mark and his romantic interest Murial Eubanks played by Geraldine Fitzgerald.
One of the biggest surprises has to be Noel. I have only ever seen him play himself in the popular Gavin and Stacey. Watching him bound onto the stage like an excited pup, surprising you with an amazing voice and more so with his Jerry Lewis-esque portrayal of the Prince’s sibling Rupbrect. He holds his own, deservedly so, and its actually heart-warming to know that this is a talent not gone to waste.
The story of get rich schemes is as old as time but this is as fresh as it is funny. This is feel good entertainment.
Do I go to the theatre often, no. If this is what the Alex has to offer then pretty soon that answer will be a resounding yes! 10/10.
Further details here