Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Theatre Review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, at the Playhouse (Vancouver)

On the French Riviera, playground of the rich and bored, Lawrence Jameson (played by Andrew Wheeler) lives life as a continuous high stakes con game by gaining the affection of a parade of wealthy but gullible women, then separating them from their money and jewelry by claiming to be an exiled Prince fighting for his obscure kingdom.

Enter Freddy Benson (Josh Epstein), a scrappy American with a similarly bent moral compass, but much less refined skills. He also aims to dupe women for money, but his crass tactics are enough to agitate Jameson and result in a classic "this town ain't big enough for the two of us" showdown.

The two scoundrels agree to a wager, with the loser to leave town: the winner is the first to weasel $50,000 out of the new arrival in town, naive American socialite Christine Colgate (Elena Juatco).

This Vancouver Playhouse production of the musical comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is an admirable effort and provides a solid two hours of entertainment. Andrew Wheeler nails the haughty, suave and sleazy Jameson, while Epstein perfectly complements him with a much more physical performance as the hustler Benson. Elena Juatco is full of bubbly energy and eases into her role as the centre of attention of both men, but almost overplays the naive and physically clumsy Christine.

Providing excellent support are Dave Marr as Andre, Jameson's fixer, and Gabrielle Jones as Muriel, one of Jameson's victims who surprisingly falls for Andre.

This being Vancouver, it is noticeable that the ensemble dancers, although game, are straining, and are generally solidly "class 2" in terms of talent and training.

The Vancouver production makes the most of the Playhouse's cozy stage, with excellent stage design, frequent and fast set changes, all bathed in vibrant colours to recreate the sun-drenched Riviera.

The musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the 1988 film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, opened on Broadway in 2005 and played for about 18 months -- not bad, but not exactly setting the world on fire. None of the musical numbers are show-stoppers, and the comedy is almost too self-referential. But for Vancouver on a cold and rainy night, the show provides a solidly engaging night out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Readers are welcome to comment on Ace Black Blog posts. Any comments that insult the intelligence will be deleted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...