NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY
book, music and lyrics by Douglas J Cohen based on the book by William Goldman.
Landor Theatre 70 Landor Road SW9 9PH To 9 February 2014.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 737 7276.
Review: William Russell 24 January.
A great way to treat an audience.
The clever thing about Douglas J Cohen’s treatment of William Goldman’s story about a strangler of elderly women (filmed in 1968 with Rod Steiger as the killer) is to make it a four person piece and have all the women played by the same actress. This turns it into a display of the skill of the players involved and the four actors in this cast rise to the challenge.
A New York Jewish cop, downtrodden and living with his Mom, is put on the case of the strangler, a failed actor obsessed with the memory of his Broadway legend Mother. The women he kills in various disguises from Parish priest to Latin Lover, range from a gullible Irish widow to a gloriously randy Spanish lady who just wants to tango with her tutor. offering Judith Paris endless opportunities to display her versatility, which she seizes and is a joy to behold.
As Morris, the put-upon son with a terrible taste in check shirts and living in the shadow of his brother who is, of course, a doctor, Graham Mackay-Bruce is memorably hangdog and likeable, Kelly Burke, Sarah, the posh girl he woos, is svelte as they come, and Simon Loughton as Kit, the killer, is superbly creepy, whether playing the priest, Latin lover, transexual or cop-persecutor.
The script is witty, the lyrics inventive and the score, although the influence of Stephen Sondheim is apparent throughout, contains songs the great man himself could be proud to claim his own. The curse of Sondheim – those copycat scores by off Broadway composers lacking his talents – has not prevailed.
The piece has some memorable moments, notably when Sarah finally gets Morris to herself and points out what she liked about him was he did not try to bed her on the first date, but that was four weeks ago and he is carrying things too far, or when, taken home to meet Mom, she wins her over by being even more of a Jewish dragon.
It has been directed with style by Robert McWhir and really deserves an afterlife beyond the Landor season.
Morris Brummell: Graham Mackay-Bruce.
Christopher Gill: Simon Loughton.
Sarah Stone: Kelly Burke.
Mothers: Judith Paris.
Director: Robert McWhir.
Lighting: Richard Lambert.
Musical Director: Nicholas Chave.
Video: Maximillient Spielbichler.
Choreographer: Cressida Carre.
Costume: Esther Rouah.