By Harry Bedford, Music Editor
Elegance, swing, style and class, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has it all. The Savoy Theatre, adjacent to the prestigious Savoy Hotel, plays host to the musical that could quite easily become a West End classic. It is a show centred around two con men on the French Riviera, one older and English and the other younger and American. The two men may have very different personalities but they both have the same goal of extracting cash from unsuspecting bourgeois tourists. As their paths cross in the resort town of Belmont-Sur-Mer they strike up a couple of deals, firstly to aid each other in their pursuits and then a bet to drive the other out of town.
The older, English gent, Lawrence Jameson, is played by a very debonair Robert Lindsay who owned the stage from the moment the lights first came up to reveal him standing in his Savile Row tuxedo to the moment he bowed to the standing ovation at the end. Known very much these days as the father in the BBC sitcom My Family he trained at RADA before making his name on the small screen with Citizen Smith and on the stage with Me and My Girl. Now in his sixties he proves that he still has it as he delivers an Olivier Award-worthy performance. He sings, dances and acts as if he was born to be on the West End stage, which may come as a slight surprise to viewers use to him playing grumpy dentist Ben Harper in My Family.
Rufus Hound was who plays the younger, American chap, Freddy Benson, was sadly absent for this particular performance. Nevertheless his understudy Andy Conaghan did what every great understudy does by grabbing his opportunity to deliver an outstanding performance. The comedy created between the two is the true selling point of the show. The contrast between Lindsay’s well-styled English gent and Conaghan’s vulgar American is, at points, laugh-out-loud funny. Perfectly delivered comedy lines and hilarious sequences as the two of them got themselves into difficult situations with the other amusing characters.
The show is filled with many other great characters, including Bonnie Langford’s Muriel Eubanks, an upper-class, middle-aged lady from Surrey who takes a shine to Robert Lindsay’s character. However in the second act, she instead falls for the clumsy seduction techniques of his French butler, Andre Thibault played by Gary Wilmot. The two of them almost take on a side-plot as their romance blossoms on the Riviera, which adds more comedy to the show. The only character who could give the hustlers a taste of their own medicine was Katherine Kingsley’s Christine Colgate, though I won’t ruin the ending for you.
The show is a wonderful collection of excellent choreography and swinging music. There was no expense spared on the scenography and costume design, as you would expect from a such a big budget production, and the songs, although not recognisable, still matched up to the anything else on the West End, with particular highlights being ‘All About Ruprecht’ and ‘Give Them What They Want’. This really is a classic West End show and anyone looking to be wowed as well as having a good laugh should certainly book tickets for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels straight away.