Skip to main content

High Society

Kings Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Cole Porter’s major talent may have lain in the effortless fizz of his song-writing, but, boy, did he know how to party. Who better then than to transpose Philip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story, a glossy tale of love among the idle rich already immortalised onscreen, into an equally elegant musical cocktail.

Subsequently readapted for the Broadway stage, no amount of sprayed-on glitz and shoehorned-in celebrity will ever quite match up to the blazing colours of the big-screen. As this latest commercial tour proves, however, for audiences hoping to recapture the airbrushed languor of the original, it remains a safe-bet staple, no matter how much overuse has blunted its decadent edge. Ian Talbot’s bright, brisk if utterly danger-free production has the added disadvantage of losing its original arena of London’s Open Air Theatre in Regents Park.

Even so, as Isla Carter’s well-heeled and occasionally too plummy society gal on the rebound Tracy Lord lives it up on the eve of her wedding to an uptight rough diamond, Talbot and choreographer Gillian Gregory give it a game, utterly uncynical whirl, with not a jot of off-putting smugness in sight. Preyed on by a pair of glamour-chasing hacks and eventually wooed off the bottle by yacht-owning former beau CK Dexter Haven, Tracy’s world is a proto OC for Hello magazine readers.

If as aging groper Uncle Willie Wayne Sleep comes on like a demented penguin with St Vitus jazz hands, all is redeemed by tunes of the calibre of Who Wants To Be A millionaire and an oddly thrown away Well Did You Ever? This society may be high, but it’s never quite mighty enough.

The Herald, February 21st 2008

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…