Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Jerry Mitchell

Jerry Mitchell Productions

Savoy Theatre

From 10 March 2014 to 07 March 2015

Review by Thomas Magill

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Few will have missed the recent off-stage drama surrounding the sudden departure of Rufus Hound from Jerry Mitchell’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels back in October. Alex Gaumond replaced him as the loveable rogue Freddy Benson alongside veteran west-end star Robert Lindsey, who plays the equally slippery, if not more refined conman Lawrence Henderson.

Other cast changes took place back in September and included Bonnie Langford and Gary Wilmot joining as the ridiculously naive Muriel Eubanks and French henchman Andre Thibault. They replaced Samantha Bond and John Marquez.

No lady is safe on the French Rivera after classy conman Lawrence Henderson randomly crosses the path of scruffy chancer Freddy Benson. They quickly embark on a journey of corruption and eventually collusion against the opposite and apparently weaker sex.

Despite being outwardly very different, it soon becomes clear these two are cut from the same cloth and, reluctantly, acknowledge the benefits of having the other to spar with. The chemistry created is electric, with Lindsey gaining the upper hand, probably as a result of experience, maturity and on-stage allure which makes him utterly captivating,
intriguing, funny and repulsive all at once—as his character should be.

There’s little to improve when it comes to their comedy timing and although their singing is pitched perfect it’s neither explosive nor particularly memorable.

If you can bear the confusing and disjointed first half, there’s comedy gold waiting for you on the other side, as the men commence battle for the affections and ultimately bank book of the millionaire soap heiress Christine Colgate (Katherine Kingsley).

Leggy, blonde and minted, there is literally nothing either of them will do to win her heart—however, the problem is, she knows it. Kingsley proves to be another safe and reliable choice, gracefully towering over most of the other cast members, delivering a polished and confident performance that ultimately oozes unexpected admiration.

Langford’s Muriel Eubanks is another female victim who falls under the Henderson spell and ends up robbed of not only her jewels but her much treasured dignity and class. She sporadically returns for more humiliation throughout the show and, unlike the 1988 movie, her stuffy pristine image is shattered as she falls for the charming and ill-speaking sidekick to Henderson played by Wilmot. Despite being brief, this twist injects some edgy va-va-voom into proceedings and adds a welcome moment of respite from the shenanigans of dumb and dumber.  

As Mitchell’s production gears up to tour the UK in 2015, there’s no doubt Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will attract hoards of fans familiar with the 1988 movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. This London show is confident, inoffensive and delivers the sort of thing a certain cohort will salivate over.

The pedigree of the cast will guarantee top-notch theatre is delivered on a nightly basis with energy, bluster and enthusiasm.