Thursday, 28 April 2011

THE KNOT OF THE HEART at the Almeida

     After a rather dire domestic drama at the National, I was delighted to see a family saga that really rings true in terms of the complexity of family relationships. When David Eldridge's THE KNOT OF THE HEART began -- with thirty-something ex children's television presenter Lucy smoking heroin while her mother watched, wineglass in hand -- I thought, uh oh, we're in for a predictable slide down into the gutter and death for our heroine. We pretty much get that --wthout the death (just almost) -- in the first hour. But the play is really about the relationships of two sisters with each other and with their mother. Lucy has been infantilized by her needy, doting mother. Sister Angela is a tough, bitter lawyer who resents the mother's preference for weak Lucy. This could be formulaic, but Eldridge understands that such relationships aren't that simple. The mother is great at evading hard questions and at manipulating Lucy who shares her mother's flaws. There are no simple answers here. Lucy's recovery is not easy or complete. The sisters come to a reconciliation, but only after moments of real cruelty. Lucy has to get away from her mother, but she must also forgive her.
     Eldridge has created fascinating, three-dimensional characters and his dialogue is vibrant. He also has a terrific cast. Lisa Dillon and Margot Leicester really bring Lucy and her  powerful mother to life. There is one moment toward the end when Lucy ad her mother keep repeating "I love you." That phrase takes on a different meaning with each repetition. Abigail Cruttenden makes sister Angela's bitterness three-dimensional. Kieran Bew plays all the male roles: Lucy's druggie boyfriend, her brutal dealer, a tough gay nurse, an inexperienced shrink and Angela's boyfriend. As usual, Michael Attenborough has staged the play deftly and helped his actors shape convincing characters. The revolving set by Peter McIntosh is simple but effective.
     THE KNOT OF THE HEART is longish, but always absorbing.
THE KNOT OF THE HEART. Almeida Theatre. April 27, 2011.   

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

THE HOLY ROSENBERGS at the National Theatre

     Who picks the new plays that are produced a the National Theatre? For the most part, they're not very good. The folks at the Royal Court and the Bush seem to have better taste. Like the recent disaster, GREENLAND, THE HOLY ROSENBERGS is a demonstration of the problems of writing a didactic play. This play, by Ryan Craig, is an old fashioned piece of domestic realism, but Craig needs to reread his Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller and his countryman, Arnold Wesker to see that such plays depend on character portrayal and relationships. He might also reread his Shaw to see how to write dramatically interesting argument about wider issues. Then there's the issue of language. Craig's character don't talk like family members. There is none of the code, the shorthand, that family members use, particularly when repeating old grievances. Craig's characters talk like characters in a poorly written play. The exposition is clunky and there is too much repetition. And no sense of humor at all, but less poetry in the dialogue (compare, again, with Odets or Wesker).
     David Rosenberg is a Kosher caterer whose business has gone bust after accusations that his food poisoned a woman. He is trying to make ends meet by driving a minicab three nights a week. He has three children -- one son, a Captain in the Isreali Air Force, just died on a bombing raid over Gaza; the daughter is a human rights lawyer -- you guessed it!-- working on a report on human rights violations in Gaza; the younger son is a wastrel who resents his fathers love of the older brother. Schematic enough for you? It is the eve of the older son's funeral and the Jewish community is up in arms that the anti-Zionist traitor of a daughter might come to the funeral. The head of the human rights investigation just happens to show up when the chairman of the synagogue is there so we can have a lengthy argument on the Gaza situation -- non-characters uttering potted speeches like a bad edition of BBCs Newsnight or PBS's nightly news show. And, of course, we get revelations. The son who died had testified before the human rights commission. He had also called the father before he died to express his terror and the father told him to soldier on. Younger son goes ballistic and takes a hatchet to the columns in front of the house (symbolic enough for you?). There's a glimmer of family reconciliation in the last minute or so.
     Arthur Miller did the deluded patriarch well over half a century ago. Ryan Craig offers a clunky imitation.
     Laurie Sansom has given the play an ultra realistic production that only emphasizes its artificiality. It is performed in the round with the audience looking down on the living room and dining room of the Rosenberg home. The cast does its best with the leaden dialogue.
     With Odets' ROCKET TO THE MOON playing next door and a revival of Wesker's CHICKEN SOUP WITH BARLEY coming to the Royal Court, audience members will be painfully aware that THE HOLY ROSENBERGS is a wan imitation of what the these earlier masters did better.
THE HOLY ROSENBERGS. National Theatre Cottesloe Theatre. April 25, 2011.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

MOONLIGHT - Donmar Warehouse

MOONLIGHT is relatively later Pinter and at moments it seemed like a Pinter's Greatest Hits compilation. Lots of remembrances of things past. A relatively silent woman with sexual secrets. A dying old man remembering his lost sex life. The reappearance of a mistress. Confessions of adultery. Two brothers one-upping each other with odd verbal improvisations. Flights of poetry. However, Pinter's Greatest Hits are better than most playwrightis and, in the hands of fine actors and a director who understands the play, this production of MOONLIGHT was fascinating.
What we have here is an odd family saga, framed by poetic solilquies from the daughter who committed suicide some time before the play begins. An old man is on his deathbed His wife sits by the bed embroidering, listening to her husband's memories, fantasies and insults, sometimes adding her own commentary. Their two sons are in a shabby flat playing odd word games with each other in an attempt to stave off their feelings of ambivalence and guilt about their father. Nonetheless, those feelings sometimes rise to the surface, usually in moments of silence. One son seems deathly ill; the other collapses occasionally. The father's mistress and the mother's lover apppear -- in reality or in the characters' imaginations? Reality and imagination are blurred in MOONLIGHT, as are past and present.  None of the characters lives in the present: they are either mired in memory or frantically busy avoiding thinking about present reality. The most emotionally powerful moments are often moments of silence.
One couldn't ask for a better cast than the one the Donmar has assembled. David Bradley shows once again that he is the best of England's older character actors. For years he played comic roles for the RSC. I'd love to see him take on KING LEAR. He knows how to make his character fascinating without making him likeable. Deborah Findlay was, as always, spot on. The most important aspect of her role in in her non-verbal reactions and one could read her character's mind.As the sons, Daniel Mays, one of England's best thirty-something character actors, and Liam Garrigan were able to intimate the emotions they were frantically busy hiding.
After pulling every possible theatrical trick to turn the sows ear that is GREENLAND into a silk purse at the National, it was good to be reassured that, given a good script, Beijan Shebani has a gift for creating an effective ensemble even out of star players like these.
One can quibble about paying full prices for a 75 minute play, but with such luxury casting and a powerful script, the cost is more than justified.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


     I must admit to knowing virtually nothing about Latvia other than it was part of the Soviet Union so for me Aleksey Scherbak's REMEMBRANCE DAY was something of a history lesson. According to Scherbak's play, Latvia, like many former Soviet satellites is split, in this case between "Latvians" who supported the Nazis during World War II to stave off Stalinist aggression, and "Russians" who either came into the country with the Soviets or are the descendants of those who did. They speak Russian and watch a Russian language television channel. Since the end of the Soviet era, they also are definitely second-class citizens. Scherbak dramatizes the split in Latvia through one Russian family around Remembrance Day which celebrates the Nazi war heroes. The father is an architect who is considered a traitor by his fellow Russians because he speaks publicly about the need for reconciliation. The son just wants to learn English and move to America to get rich. The daughter becomes something of a radical fanatic, espousing violence against the Latvians. She hates her father's sentimentality and the cynical pragmatism of the young political activists. The harsh sectarianism of the old men who lived through World War II is not as harsh as it first seems.
      There are a few holes in the play's politics. No one mentions the Nazi's slaughter of the Jews. The characters are not all as fully drawn as they might be-- at times more representatives of points of view than characters. However this production of REMEMBRANCE DAY was gripping greatly because of superb direction (Michael Longhurst) and a fine cast. This was one of the best directed plays I have seen in a long time. On a very basic unit set, Longhurst kept the action moving by keeping characters from one scene on stage as the next scene played out. The cast was comprised of actors familiar from British television, but who are also accomplished stage actors. Petite Ruby Bentall (the dizzy maid on LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD) captures the teenage girl's increasing fanatacism effectively. The old partisans (Sam Kelly, Ewan Hooper and Struan Rodger) were particularly good. They can bury the hatchet -- it's the teenage daughter who wants a violent solution.
 REMEMBRANCE DAY by Aleksey Scherbak, translated by Rory Mullarkey. Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. April 15, 2011.           

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


     I remember vividly Stephen Frear's film of Hanif Kureishi's MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE. It was a lovely, subtle picture of class and race in Thatcher-era London with a complex gay romance thrown in. There's no good reason to turn this fine film into a play and Roger Parsely and Andy Graham's adaptation for the tiny stage of the Above the Stag Theatre has plusses and minuses.
     If you don't remember, the central character of MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE is a 17 year old mixed-race boy, Omar. Omar's father is a Pakistani-born intellectual. In his home country, he was a distinguished journalist and friend of the president. In London he is an unemployed, disillusioned drunk. His English wife couldn't stand the negativity anymore and committed suicide. Omar's father wants his son to be like him -- a well educated intellectual, but he isn't much of a role model. Instead, Omar wants to be like his uncle and cousins -- well-off through the profits from legitimate and not-so-legitimate businesses. His uncle starts him washing cars in his garage but within a few days gives him a failing laundrette to run. His cousin has him working part-time as a courier in his drug business. Like his uncle and cousin, Omar is fiercely ambitious and sees himself as superior to the lazy working-class whites who hate the Pakistanis. One of those lazy white racists is Johnny, Omar's childhood friend who briefly joined the racist, fascist National Front. Johnny is homeless and unemployed until Omar hires him to help with his laundrette. Omar and Johnny becomes lovers, but their relationsip is a fraught one because, however much they are attracted to one another, racial resentments aren't far below the surface. There are other characters: the uncle's white mistress and his daughter, Tania, who isn't allowed to be part of the family enterprises because she is female. The family hopes Omar will marry Tania, but she knows where Omar's affections lie. She even tries unsuccessfully to steal Johnny.
     The dramatization has only the six main characters. Gone are the other women in the film: Uncle Nassir's wife who places a successful curse on his mistress and cousin Nassir's chic wife. We also lose Johnny's fascist friends who try to destroy his and Omar's business.There are some clunky expository passages and soliloquies. The racial  attitudes of the Pakistani's are a bit clearer than in the screenplay, but some of the ironies are lost. In the film, it is clear that Uncle Nassir knows about the romance of Omar and Johnny and can accept it. Johnny in the play is subjected to so much virulent racism and homophobia from cousin Salim that I thought he must be a masochist to stay with Omar and his family. Salim is a bit too nastily racist and homophobic in this version.
     Nonetheless, this version of MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE is cleverly staged (Tim McArthur) and well acted. I believed James Wallwork's Johnny more than Daniel Day-Lewis's in the film. Wallwork is a burly guy. You believe he was once a thug and that Nassir would hire him to be a menacing presence on one of his properties. Day Lewis was too refined and intelligent: he seemed to be a sophisticate posing as a homeless working class kid. What I didn't believe is that cousin Salim could beat up Johnny so easily. Wallwork looks like he could easily win that fight -- or are we to believe Johnny chooses not to fight back? Yannick Fernandes captures Omar's drive and his anger. The sexual chemistry between Wallwork and Fernandes is sporadic, too often like two straight actors not totally comfortable with the snogging. The rest of the cast was fine.
MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE has been another hit for the Above the Stag Theatre. I was interested to see that this theatre over a gay pub that basically does gay-oriented plays attracts straight as well as gay audience members. I had a feeling many who were there didn't know the film and were enjoying discovering these fascinating characters for the first time.   
MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE. Above the Stage Theatre. April 12, 2011

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


     The years before World War I were one of the most fertile periods in English theatre. G.B. Shaw, Harley Granville-Barker, John Galsworthy, J.M. Barrie, Somerset Maugham were at their creative peak and older writers like Arthur Wing Pinero were still writing good plays. All these men were based in London, but there were also a group of playwrights in Manchester, one of whom was Allan Monkhouse, a prolific novelist as well as writer for the theatre. His MARY BROOME (1911) was the most recent of a fine series of revivals of Victorian and Edwardian plays at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. This little theatre-in-the-round has the knack for honest, nuanced presentations of these works.
    MARY BROOME is a servant in the prosperous bourgeoise household of Edward Timbrell, one of the pompous, successful men who were one of the favorite targets of comedies of the period. Edward has two sons, who could not be more different from one another. Edgar is a carbon copy of his father, about to embark on the usual sort of respectable marriage for a man like him. His brother Leonard is, as he admits, a bounder. He claims to be a writer, but is not very good at it. Basically his only talents are spending other people's money and dominating conversations. He despises middle class morality and narrow-mindedness, but is himself unprincipled and self-indulgent and dependent on the money his conventional, respectable relatives earn. He is also a born performer, dominating every conversation with comments designed to infuriate his father and shock other members of the family. He has managed to get poor Mary Broome pregnant. She is a sweet, simple uneducated girl with a strong sense of morality. She knows she has done something wrong, but is most concerned about the welfare of her child. When Leonard's father says that either he will marry Mary or be cut off without a cent, the two embark on what will inevitably be a disastrous marriage of convenience for both of them. Leonard dashes off to parts unknown, leaving Mary to deal with the death of her beloved son and penury -- one insult too many has caused Leonard's father to cut off his allowance. At the end, Mary goes off to Canada with a young milkman who will be a good husband and Leonard is left alone but unrepentant.
     All this doesn't seem the stuff of comedy, but Monkhouse treats his potentially melodramatic material with a deft, light touch. For the most part, the characters are articulate and witty or, if narrow minded, the barbs of other characters' wit. Mary seems a melodramtic character in the midst of a comedy of manners. She doesn't understand much of what her husband says, but comes to understand his fecklessness. She is willing to defy conventional morality to get what she needs for herself, though in many ways she is the most ethical character. Like many playwrights of the period, Monkhouse is sorting through the conventional morality of an earlier era to see what still pertains for his age.  Like many of his peers, he sees women as more insightful and practical than the men they must economically depend on.
     The Orange Tree revival of MARY BROOME is a big hit for this suburban venue. Even on a Monday night it was sold out with full standing room. Veteran Auriol Smith has directed the play deftly. One of the virtues of seeing these plays in an intimate theatre is that the dialogue can be presented realistically at almost conversational level, and it is amazing how good these plays "sound", what masters of dialogue the writers of the period were. The cast was uniformly good, but special praise must be accorded to Jack Farthing who managed to make Leonard someone we enjoyed watching despite the fact that the character is a nasty piece of business. Farthing's Leonard relishes his performance as a hopeless reprobate as he knows it is a performance with nothing much underneath it.
     A delightful evening of theatre.
MARY BROOME. Orange Tree Theatre. April 11, 2011. 

Saturday, 9 April 2011


I remember being intrigued and baffled by the film, THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. My vocabulary for film musicals was based on MGM's wonderful product, so I wasn't prepared for a little through-sung French musical in which almost the entire score was recitative sung-spoken by untrained singers including the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve. The French have an approach to film musicals that is both more naturalistic and more mannered than the US approach. Have you seen the absolutely brilliant recent French musical LOVE SONGS? If not, rent or buy it immediately. THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG was an acquired taste but one I easily acquired. Perhaps being an opera fan helped. The scoring was beautiful in an early 1960s jazzy way and the very colorful film looked ravishing. French filmmakers use color in very expressive ways.
The current stage version of THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG has not been enthusiastically received here. Critics complain about the Michelle LeGrand score which only proves what Stephen Sondheim has written -- that theatre critics know nothing about music. It's a sublte, very sophisticated score, but subtlety and sophistication aren't what theatre critics or West End audiences know how to react to. The story is also unsentimental. A young couple falls in love. She gets pregnant. He goes off to war. She marries a rich man who loves her and can support her and her child. The boy returns and, after a brief, self-destructive period, he falls in love with the nurse to his elderly, sick aunt. He marries the nurse and inherits his aunt's estate. Years later, there is a brief reunion of the young lovers, now married and with children, but they have moved on. No grand sentimental reunion. No tragedy. Live goes on. It's a story of simple, decent people who are survivors.
     Basically the show gives us the entire film score, plus new material for an invented character called La Maitresse played by cabaret performer Meow Meow. She begins each act as a kind of audience warm up. It isn't necessary but it does establish a tone of informality. Without it, folks who don't know the film may be more baffled. Legrand has also written a torch song for her to separate the second and third "acts" of the story -- the only song sung in French. Veteran lyricist Sheldon Harnick has provided a serviceable translation of the rest of the score. He wisely kept the translation faithful to the original, that is, sounding like sung dialogue rather than conventional rhyming lyrics.  It was wise to pick the lyricist of the most sophisticated non-Sondheim musical (the classic SHE LOVES ME. If you don't know that show, get the original cast album with Barbara Cook, or hightail it to Chichester where it is about to be revived) to provide the English version.
     I thought THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG worked brilliantly as a stage musical, thanks in part to a wonderful little orchestra and Emma Rice's lovely, inventive staging and choreography that provided a theatrical equivalent to the artifice of the film. The cast was perfect. Other than Meow Meow and veteran Joanna Riding as the girl's mother, it was a cast of young unknown singing actors who were perfect for their roles. No one belted a la GLEE as that would have been totally inappropriate to the delicate score. There were touches of artifice -- The elderly aunt was played by a man. It isn't played as a joke. The simple sets, moved by cast members, were witty and effective.
     The theatre was far from full on a Friday night (poor reviews and some bad word of mouth), but the audience who were there clearly totally enjoyed the experience. My partner and I thought it was delightful. It was certainly the best "new" musical I have seen in London or New York in years. Go figure.   
THE UMBRELLA OF CHERBOURG. Gielgud Theatre. April 8, 2011.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

WASTWATER at the Royal Court

     I am a great admirer of Simon Stephens' work, but was a bit let down by this trilogy of one-acts set around Heathrow Airport. Inept direction (Katie Mitchell) was a great deal of the problem, but WASTWATER seems less developed than Stephens' other work. "We're all connected," says the sociopath in the final play. There are some connections between the characters in the three plays, but they are unconvincing plot points, not connections that orm the works or their characters. The play is typical of Stephens's work in its eerie move toward violence.
     "Do you believe in good people and bad people," one character asks, and the play progresses from the good (a doting foster mother) to the bad (an unremittingly nasty woman who traffics in children). The plays are linked by tears, though characters don't always know why they are crying. Each scene ends with characters moving toward an embrace. In the first play, set in a run-down house in a village near Heathrow, a middle-aged woman bids farewell to one of her favorite foster children, a young man who is leaving for Canada. The second play takes place in an airport hotel. Two people, both married, are about to go to bed together. She wants to be slapped: he has never hurt anybody. The slaps are the only physical connection we see in their encounter. Finally, we are in an abandoned warehouse. A female psycopath interrogates a decent married man. She works for an organization that sells third world children to couples who have found it difficult to adopt legally. He endures her humiliating questioning because he really wants a child. So WASTWATER moves from a tender scene to scenes of increasing creepiness, ending with an awkward meeting between a man and the daughter he has just purchased. Stephens is a superb writer and there were dramatically powerful moments here, but not the sense of inexorable movement toward and away from a catastrophe one finds in his best work. These are relatively static works.
     Watching this preview of WASTWATER was an odd experience. The young Royal Court audience wanted to laugh at moments in the play that really weren't funny. Other moments cried out for more mordantly humorous presentation. Director Katie Mitchell, whose work is always humorless even when humor is called for, created a typically emotionally arid production. The final play, which reminded me of some of Harold Pinter's work, an interrogation fulled with bizarre, irrelevant questions that should have been somewhat humorous, was relentlessly nasty (some in the audience left). WASTWATER gave us Mitchell in her hyper realistic mode, as opposed to Mitchell wrapping the furniture in plastic or Mitchell's "Let's Make a Video" mode. At least it wasn't Mitchell in her "let's light the stage with one candle" mode. Nonetheless, her choices were characteristically odd. In the first thirty-minute play, Mitchell had the two characters remain motionless in a doorway for the entire play which gets frustrating to watch on a stage. During the second play in the hotel room, the characters rarely stopped pacing which seemed more appropriate if a bit hectic. At the end of the evening, after what should have been the final curtain of a very intense scene, Mitchell had the curtain rise again and made the audience look at the empty warehouse set for two minutes. Why other than to leave her audience baffled, not with the play but with her choice? It certainly let the air out of what went before. She really is an irritating director. Mitchell is supposedly beloved in Germany where they love bizarre theatre that explodes narrative logic. I'm not a total conservative viv-a-vis theatrical presentation, but after watching her work for twenty years, I just don't think Katie Mitchell is very good at what she does. Obviously not everyone here agrees with me -- she continues to get work.
     There were some excellent performances, one in each play. Linda Bassett was as always radiant as the foster mother, but she was saddled with an amateurish scene partner. Paul Ready was pitch perfect in the second play as the man who discovers the pleasure of violence, and Angus Wright played the decent, desperate man convincingly in the third play. I didn't think Jo McInnes, Ready's scene partner, or Amanda Hale as the nasty child seller fully inhabited their parts yet.
WASTWATER. Royal Court Theatre. April 1, 2011.

Friday, 1 April 2011


          BETTY BLUE EYES the new musical about to open on the West End (I saw it halfway thrugh its run of previews) is an adaptation of the film A PRIVATE FUNCTION, a sendup of small town life in Britain in the austere late 1940s. It is an old fashioned book musical comedy, the sort of thing that was once the dominant genre on Broadway and on the West End. Unfortunately, the tendency is to judge such an effort not in relation to contemporary musicals, but in comparison with classic musical comedies of the past. The book is probably stronger, the production values higher, the cast at least as good. So why wasn't I totally sold on it?
       Since most London musicals are imports from the US or planned as future exports to the US, one seldom sees a musical that actually takes place in England. The success of BILLY ELLIOTT may have inspired producer Cameron Mackintosh, the man responsible for those nineteen-eighties megamusical exports, to come out of semi-retirement and mount this show. Mackintosh was co-producer of MARY POPPINS another "English" musical which failed in London but has been a successful export.
         If you don't know the movie, A PRIVATE FUNCTION is about the theft of a pig meant to feed the guests at a local dinner party in honor of the wedding of Elizabeth and Philip. There are corrupt city officials, snobbish wives and an obsessed meat inspector.
         The plusses of this show. First and foremost, the fine Richard Eyre production is built on performers with personalities. Mackintosh and Eyre have allowed a cast of excellent character actors who are delightful to watch to do what they do best. Reece Shearsmith and Sarah Lancashire are charming as the meek chiropodist and housewife who wants to be part of local society. They are ably supported by a group of veteran actors one is used to seeing at the National Theatre. Adrian Scarborough and David Bamber stand out as the mad meat inspector and tyrranical first citizen of the town. On the whole, it's a fine cast that coheres as an ensemble with the exception of Ann Emery who plays Shearsmith's dotty mother-in-law. I hope Eyre manages to tone down her amateurish mugging and divaish obliviousness of her fellow actors.
     Ron Cowen and Daniel Lippman's book is both faithful to the story and spirit of the film and stageworthy. The material is funny and everything about the production is lovely to watch.
         Composer-lyricists George Stiles and Anthony Drewe know how to create musical numbers that fit the characters, situation and period, a stark contrast to the wash of musical goo Andrew Lloyd Webber pours over his poperettas. I was also impressed with how every song seemed to come naturally out of the story, a tribute to them and to the book writers. BETTY BLUE EYES is almost a textbook example for aspiring writers of traditional musical comedy. However, and this is a big however, great musical comedies of the past were also written to showcase great, memorable songs, in the style we now refer to as "the American songbook." The American songbook is a thing of the past. It was also American, so perhaps the standard I set for a score like this is totally unrealistic. This score is sort of Noel Cowardy -- light, pleasant but never heartfelt. And never really breaking into melody as if that would just be too sentimental. My partner said, "Those weren't songs, they were jingles."  Their lyrics are a cut above most lyrics these days (compared to the lyrics of LOVE NEVER DIES they are masterpieces) though I could anticipate the rhyme every time. There were no surprises, as there are with really great lyricists (all but one of whom are dead, I know, so weren't available). I wouldn't rush out and buy the cast album. I kept thinking, "Where is Frank Loesser when you need him." I know, he's American and dead. Who is around to do a better job with this show now? Probably no one.
         I enjoyed BETTY BLUE EYES, though I never totally surrendered to it as one must to really appreciate a musical. I am willing to admit that the problem may be mine. Perhaps I want the show to be something that it is not and, though I am an Anglophile, I wanted an old-fashioned song-filled American musical comedy and the show's Britishness distanced me somewhat. I must say that the packed house roared its approval at the end. Oh, yes, the animatronic pig is very funny.
BETTY BLUE EYES. Novello Theatre. March 31, 2011.