dmg media (UK)
Guys And Dolls Bridge Theatre, London Until September 2, 2hrs 40mins ★★★★★ Farm Hall Jermyn Street Theatre, London Until April 8, 1hr 30mins ★★★★★ This thrilling new revival of perhaps the greatest of all Broadway shows offers you a deal. Stand or sit. You can either wander around, mingling with the actors, led by stage crew dressed as cops, or lazier bums (like me) can choose to watch from seats around the stage’s four sides. Either way, the buzz is terrific. Cars parp, neon signs glare, and New York City brims with lowlifes and dice rollers – ‘crapshooters’ – in natty, Depression-era costumes. The triumph of Frank Loesser’s show (he wrote both music and lyrics) is that it brings alive the characters of Damon Runyon’s stories and adds heavenly lyrics: ‘Take back your mink, take back your poils, what made you think I was one of those goils?’ And what a cast this gets. Daniel Mays – the Line Of Duty star – is deliciously lugubrious as Nathan Detroit, harried and forever trying to find a home for his next illegal crap game, while promising he’ll marry his fiancee of 14 years, the ditzy Hot Box show girl Adelaide, hilariously played by the adorable Marisha Wallace. Sky Masterson, the bet-onanything walking legend, is played by Andrew Richardson (he looks like a young Clark Gable) in a stonking debut. When Nathan bets Sky that he can’t woo Sister Sarah of the Save-a-Soul Mission (the terrific Celinde Schoenmaker), Sky wins but then goes and falls in love with the godly broad after a few Bacardis in Havana. The show, directed by Nicholas Hytner, adds a sexiness lacking in the past few London revivals. Its fabled tunes hold up magnificently – among them Luck, Be A Lady and Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat, the latter a gospel-ish belter (led by Cedric Neal’s Nicely-Nicely Johnson) whose encores get ever louder roars from a delighted audience. Bunny Christie’s designs and the punchy choreography of Arlene Phillips and James Cousins help give the show its swinging pep. It’s a fabulous evening and a dead-cert investment. Farm Hall is set in the Cambridgeshire countryside in 1945, where a bunch of captive German nuclear physicists, the so-called ‘Uranium Club’, pass their days having tried and failed to build an atomic bomb for Hitler. They’ve nothing to do except bicker, play an old piano and act out (badly) Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit while the unseen British eavesdrop. Katherine Moar’s intriguing new play features the Nobel Prize-winning Heisenberg (Alan Cox) and his friend Weizsacker (Daniel Boyd). Von Laue (David Yelland) is the professor who stood up to the Third Reich, while Diebner and Bagge (Julius D’Silva and Archie Backhouse) are the most Nazi members of the group. It is the likeable Hahn (Forbes Masson) who goes into a meltdown of horror when news comes that the Americans have dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. The performances in Stephen Unwin’s production are exquisite. These great minds are afflicted by homesickness and guilt for having helped prise open the Pandora’s Box of the atomic age. What theme could be more relevant as the world faces the threat of another mushroom cloud? A fascinating 90 minutes of theatre.