The Solid Gold Cadillac

Howard Teichmann and George S. Kaufman
Garrick Theatre
(2004)

Solid Gold cadillac poster

Fifty years ago, Solid Gold Cadillac was a smash hit that ran and ran. One of its writers, George S. Kaufman, was a script writer for the Marx Brothers and had numerous hits with collaborators such as Irving Berlin and Moss Hart.

This revival will sell on the back of two much-loved icons, Patricia Routledge and Roy Hudd. Sadly, it is now a very dated comedy fairy tale that does not have too much else going for it.

It opens with its New York Cinderella, Miss Routledge as an archetypal little old lady, asking awkward questions at the AGM of General Products Inc. Prefiguring more modern corporate governance issues, she addresses the corruption of its greedy Board and their inflated salaries.

They are not too bright and their big mistake is to buy her off with a job. In no time, she has the little stockholders on side and is despatched to Washington to keep the president emeritus, played by Mr Hudd, quiet.

The ageing pair get on like a house on fire, despite his party piece, a truly embarrassing rendition of a poem about Spartacus, complete with puerile hand movements and grimaces.

From there, the dynamic duo take on the corporation and remarkably, courtesy of the most unlikely contrivance since the days when it was de rigueur for mice to become horses and pumpkins, coaches, our little old Cinderella takes over the corporation. Then, to general delight and in breach of all employment laws she fires the four far less than wise men.

On a stark minimalist set, Miss Routledge, paying little attention to americanising her accent, plays herself. Mr Hudd has fun as her Prince Charming and the supporting cast have little to do.

Solid Gold Cadillac has the odd funny lines but little humour that hits hard today. Despite the brave efforts of the stars, the plot is unlikely to engage a contemporary audience.

Director Ian Brown comes up with little that is original, other than film clips and a voice over narration. More importantly he doesn't tap the nostalgia for a more innocent time. You can imagine how this might have been played by the Marx Brothers and that style might just have pulled it off.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher