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The Gentlemen

Simon Glass
Jermyn Street Theatre
(2003)

If Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie ever have nightmares they probably seem rather like this play.

Toby Compton Batt, played by David Partridge, is an unbelievably callow, priggish director of blockbuster gangster movies. He lives in a superbly designed apartment, courtesy of Charlie Tymms. This contains Rothkos, stylish posters advertising the hero's films and an odd assortment of trendy furniture.

Having bullied his butler and come out with boasts of his trophy wife, a weird party manned by the eponymous "gentlemen" who are anything but, begins. This consists of games both physical and mental that lead to the humiliation that Glass clearly believes is the consequence of toying with "hard men".

The main reason for going to see The Gentlemen is a trio of excellent performances, well directed by the playwright, from the actors playing the thugs that have been Toby's muses.

Thane Bettany has been on the stage for over 50 years and gives Frank the look of a man whose terminal cancer may not permit him to survive the evening, even with the help of a pile of morphine tablets. Stuart Goodwin is threatening as gay Andrew, though his homosexuality is covered far too well. Finally there is Oliver Hayden as The Connoisseur, a truly fearsome man.

This is really all tosh but then so are all of the most popular gangster movies. For fans of the genre a trip to Jermyn Street is a must. Anyone else would be well advised to steer clear.

"The Gentlemen" runs until 28th June

This review originally appeared on Theatreworld in a slightly different version

Reviewer: Philip Fisher