Savoy Theatre, London
A decade after its premiere in California, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels finally arrived at the West End earlier this year and continues to leave audiences well and truly entertained.
The production is based on the 1988 film of the same name starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, and features all the elements that made the source material so brilliant, including its crude and comical narrative.
Lawrence is a mastermind conman from England who thrives in the art of scamming by seducing beautiful, wealthy but oh-so naïve women. He operates in the French Riviera alongside the corrupt chief of police, but his game is threatened when Freddy, a young rival from America invades his territory.
After a successful double-team stint to rid Lawrence of the over-enthusiastic Jolene Oakes of Oklahoma, the duo find themselves competing against each other to see who can best con the soap queen. As expected, they meet love, betrayal and a little trouble along the way.
Robert Lindsay oozes charm as Lawrence, with his sophisticated demeanour and smooth-talking. It’s easy to forget that he was once the foolish Ben Harper of My Family and he is far from the lazy and disorganised – though entirely loveable – Wolfie Smith (Citizen Smith) after seeing him dance with ease, precision and complete coolness.
Similarly, Alex Gaumond as sidekick Freddy, is a natural on the stage, with his youthful allure and impeccable comical timing. His rendition of naughty number, Great Big Stuff is remarkable and downright hilarious.
It is Katherine Kingsley however that steals the show as Christine Colgate, the ‘soap queen’, with her humour, charisma and incredible vocal ability. Her clumsiness is sweet and her occasional manliness is somehow even sweeter, but it is her convincing innocence and skill in manipulating and winning the audience over that earns her place as star of the show.
Supporting actors Bonnie Langford and Gary Wilmot inject an extra dimension of comedy into the production while West End first-timer Lizzy Connolly is spectacular as Jolene. She perfects the ability to irritate and amuse at the same time and boasts superb dancing and a voice of steel, making her one to watch for 2015.
David Yazbek’s music and lyrics are wonderfully suited to the performance while Jerry Mitchell’s directing and choreography is on-point. The sets and costumes are over-the-top extravagant but this is entirely expected and well-received.
Jeffrey Lane’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has everything you could want from a musical comedy: tomfoolery, blackmail, charm, wit, betrayal, romance, and just the right amount of vulgarity. It would be impossible to leave the theatre without a sore jaw from laughing. Definitely not one to miss.