The first act curtain is well worth waiting for. And when something is worth doing once it is worth doing twice. Down on his luck composer Geoffrey Tempest has written a musical play, The Sorrows of Satan, the Faust legend relocated in the 1920s in the style of Noel Coward. He has arrived, trunk in tow, having been kicked out of his digs, at the home of his sponsor, Prince Lucio Rimianez to rehearse the piece, an updating of the story of Faust. The pianist Amiel (Stefan Bednarczyk) is there, so is a socialite called Lady Sybil (Molly Lynch), who may be playing the lead. In due course the Prince arrives. So do two notes announcing that the actors who were to have performed the piece as Faust and the Devil will not be attending, having fallen to their deaths out of windows at Claridges. Geoffrey under protest and the Prince with alacrity take the roles, except it soon becomes clear that Geoffrey is living his play and Lucio really is Satan.
It is absurd, stylish, performed in the palatial surroundings of the ballroom at Brocket Hall, and there is a splendid opening number to Act Two when the pianist Amiel, hitherto dumb, suddenly finds his voice and sings I Sold My Soul to the Devil – a ballad which sounds remarkably close to I Went to a Marvellous Party. Will love find a way? Will Jeffrey sell his soul? After all 30 years of success as a composer of musical plays is quite attractive. Or will Satan still be unrequited. Messrs Bateman and Conley have a ball, Molly Lynch dripping pearls in a little black dress is Sybil, Mavis Claire, a writer of musical comedies not plays who turns up after Sybil’s exit, and then an actress come to audition for the part who all look exactly the same.
It premiered originally in 2017 at the Tristan Bates Theatre. Directed by Adam Lenson it is sophisticated and smart and while maybe not as funny as it would like to think,it passes the time very well indeed.
Geoffrey Tempest: Luke Bateman.
Prince Lucio Rimianex: Michael Conley.
Lady Sybil: Molly Lynch.
Amiel: Stefan Bednarczyc.
Director: Adam Lenson.
Lighting: Sam Waddington & Ben Jacobs.
Technical production: Chris Czorny.
streaming to 9 May 2021
7.30pm to 9 May. 2.30pm 8 & 9 May.