Book by Carter Brown, music by Richard Hartley, Lyrics by Richard O’Brien.
4 Stars ****
St James Studio: to 13 August
12 Palace Street, London SW1 5JA to 13 August 2016.
Mon-Thurs 8pm. Fri& Sat 5pm & 8.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 264 2140
Review: William Russell 12 July.
Detectives, dames, homicides and low life set deliciously to music
The small St James studio proves the perfect space for this splendid musical based on the novel by the pulp fiction writer Carter Brown. In a larger theatre it would die, but here the in your face production staged by director Benji Sperring it works a treat.
We follow the attempt by homicide detective Al Wheeler to uncover why Patty Keller jumped to her death from the roof of a tall building. A trench coated man with a conscience who will sleep with whoever comes his way, femmes fatale or no. Gloria Onitiri as Patty’s sister Dolores, the slinky stripper of the title, matches him perfectly. She even does a rather good strip.
Round them the other three cast members, Hanna Grover, Marc Pickering and Michael Steedon, play everybody else. Part of the enjoyment is watching how they transform themselves in the blink of an eye from one character to another These range from Latin floozie to chilly proprietress of the Arkwright Happiness Club, a dating agency up to no good at the heart of it all; from crooked nightclub owner to camp proprietor of a flower shop who is a customer f of the Club; from dense gangster who may also be an actor to the Club’s peculiar disabled owner, and so on.
All human low life is there.
Guns get fired, threats get issued, sirens seduce and are seduced, and the shadowy world of the pulp fiction novel is brought beautifully to life as the hero insists on telling the story of hapless Patty, the girl who knew too much.
The lyrics by Richard O’Brien are witty and frequently deliciously near the knuckle, while Richard Hartley’s jazzy blues score catches the period sound perfectly – this is America in the sixties – and is played by a first rate five piece orchestra.
O’Brien is, of course, famous for The Rocky Horror Show which unforgettably sent up the world of the B movie. This hard boiled assault on the pulp fiction genre is less successful but that said it is hugely entertaining, and hits its targets bang on the bulls eye most of the time. It deserves a longer life, the only problem is where. Suitable venues are scarce.
Sarah Arkwright/Sherry Mendez/Annabelle: Hannah Grover.
Dolores Keller/Patty Keller: Gloria Onitiri.
Harvey Stern/Miles Rovak/Sheriff Lavers: Marc Pickering.
Jacob Arkwright/Steve Loomas/ Doc Murphy: Michael Steedon.
Al Wheeler: Sebastian Torkia.
Director: Benji Sperring.
Movement Director: Lucie Pankhurst.
Musical Director & Arranger: Alex Beetschen.
Set & Costume Designer: Tim Shortall.
Lighting Design: Nic Farman.
Sound Design: Andrew Johnson.