Saw it on the opening night, I was very pleased with the show, not quite what I was expecting, and the opening night hiccups were evident. But the point is the show was well staged, with intentional execution that whilst seemingly stiff and jointed was a entertaining experience.
I would say the star of the show was Micheal Richards, I enjoyed his twsited anticts and his final ploy to get even in the body stakes.
There were a few times when I thought, wow I wonder if they will do that, and the reaction was far less stiking and more dulled, and moments where some inspiration came from nowhere.
Muscial lovers who like all that jazz stay away, butfor those people who loved to see the look on a face as something dreadful or amazing dawns on them, you missed you chance! - USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
28 Jul 03
I enjoyed it. Yes the accents wavered and Teddy and Jonathan didn't look exactly like TR and BK, but it was entertaining. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
02 Jun 03
TERRIBLE . Left in the interval. What a mess of a show. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
16 May 03
Wonderful, a great evening out. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
01 Apr 03
The whole point of the Teddy character is that he's supposed to look and act like Teddy Roosevelt, and he doesn't. The whole point of the Michael Richards character is that he's supposed to look and act like Boris Karloff, and he doesn't. (Have he and the make up man ever seen a Karloff film?) The whole point of the central character is that he's supposed to be panicky, and he isn't. The whole point of the play is to be funny, and it isn't. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
18 Mar 03
I thought it was brilliant. I`ve admired Stephen Tompkinson for many years, but never seen him act live. I wasn`t disappointed. He was fantastic, very funny & had great timing.
Micheal Richards was great & with his sidekick Paul Rider they made the play.
Thelma Barlow & Marcia Warren worked extremely well together. Also Rupert Vansittart gave a convincing performance.
However I found that Hattie Morahan over-acted especially in the first act.
So glad I went & My Nan who came with me (on 8th March) as her Birthday present was full of praise for the actors. Nan of course remembers the film with Cary Grant. At first she found it hard to except Stephen in his part, but came away suitably impressed with his portrayal.
Both Nan & I are considering going again.
From Erica Branson - USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
16 Mar 03
Poor Thelma Barlow. You can take the actress out of Corrie, but you can't take the Corrie accent out of the actress. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
06 Mar 03
Whoever wrote: Who really CARES if some of the accents were a little less than American? I seem to recall Dick Van Dyke's "Cockney" accent in Mary Poppins as being somewhat less than accurate!
Are you insane?
You cannot hold up Dick Van Dyke's appalling performance in Mary Poppins as an example of something GOOD.
I despair. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
06 Mar 03
Yes it is long. Yes the accents wobble violently (both Barlow and Tompkinson see-saw between Manchester and mid-Atlantic). And yes, it is more slapstick than it needs to be. But is is a hoot and it got genuine laughs, mostly when Barlow/Warren or Richards/Rider are involved. Not a 5, but not far short of the mark either - a worthy revival. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
05 Mar 03
I had forgotten this play was set in Brooklyn, and none of the actors' accents helped remind me.
Too many Brits believe there is only one "American Accent" and in this play it rarely survives past the interval.
Surprised to see so many WoS members defending this sort of sloppiness. Of course accent/authenticity of character is important - that's what acting is about. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
27 Feb 03
Too much slap and some very old schtick. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
27 Feb 03
A wonderful evening in the theatre. Eceptionally funny and very well acted. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
26 Feb 03
Too long, too much flab and some terrible over-acting from Richards and Thomkinson (sp?. This play should not have been exhumed from the cellar. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
26 Feb 03
and TOO TOO long - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
26 Feb 03
Correct me if I am wrong, but Arsenic and Old Lace is a black comedy, not a farce. Something that seems to have escaped the director and cast. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
25 Feb 03
May I start by using the following quotation - "I may not agree with what you say, but I would defend with my life your right to say it"
That in response to Mr/Ms one star reveiwer, with whom I simply *cannot* agree - I thought the production was absolutely first class, and would quite happily watch it again.
I too had the advantage of not having had my view jaundiced by having seen the original movie (other than short snatches) and so I was able to watch the play as it was originally intended to be - a PLAY.
Who really CARES if some of the accents were a little less than American? I seem to recall Dick Van Dyke's "Cockney" accent in Mary Poppins as being somewhat less than accurate!
As for slapstick performance, I fully expected this, and would have been rather dissapointed had this content been lacking.
My regards and congratulations to ALL the cast, and of course the entire production team.
My only regret is that the neccesity of catching a train home prevented me from staying for the Q&A afterwards.
Paul Davey. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
21 Feb 03
Having never seen the film version I was able to view the play from a fresh perspective. I enjoyed it immensely and had no problem with the length (nor did my teenage daughter). I have gone away from too many plays recently feeling short changed. It takes time to develop characters and this play certainly has quite a few of those. Yes the play descends into slapstick at times but surely this is what one expects from a classic farce. I have to say I enjoyed all the performances. It was a delight to see the wonderful Michael Richards on the West End stage. Paul Rider as Dr Einstein was very Peter Lorre-esque, in my view just the right treatment for this part. Thelma Barlow and Marcia Warren had an excellent chemistry and the moment when they came out in their funeral gear was an absolute hoot. Stephen Tomkinson's reactions provided a lot of the comic moments. The lovely Hattie Morahan played it over the top in true farce tradition. Rupert Vansittart was a very 'believable' Teddy Rooseveldt. All in all a great night out. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
21 Feb 03
Thoroughly enjoyable. Hammed up a bit, but so what. Don't compare with the film, it's not fair. A great night out. Jonothan was wonderful as were the aunts. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
21 Feb 03
A mixed bag. Some fine parts but it is very long and the performances don't really gel together - they are taking it in turns to say their thing.
The slapstick element is a little overdone (Stephen Tompkinson overacts here).
But.......it is enjoyable and there are some witty lines. A real shame about the length though - it is veru difficult to stay interested for that long.
Ash_G - USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
21 Feb 03
Very interesting preview attended by a huge WoS crowd. I think the best impression of this show will be gained by those who have not seen the Cary Grant movie as comparisons just won't work. The play as staged here is broad and unsubtle, and the nuances of the movie are gone. As the septuagenarian poisoners, Thelma Barlow and Marcia Warren are too spry, although Warren is much closer to her character than Barlow who mugs and wrings her hands when she could actually be acting.
As the good son caught in a nightmare plot, Stephen Tomkinson has one of the hardest jobs in the theatre, playing old material with modern physical comedy but it's obvious he's working too hard.
The show is too long - and the hefty plot clues dropped into the dialogue in Act I are pointed by the cast as if they were performing to six-year-olds. The whole show needs rigorous cutting, and a greater encouragement towards ensemble acting: there are a lot of solo turns.
Michael Richards as the bad/heavy brother, and Paul Rider his Peter Lorre-like sidecick are fine, but Hattie Morahan playing Tomkinson's girlfriend is just dire - charging about the stage like a colt, in pursuit of some motivation by the looks of things. It's a badly written part, but she makes nothing of it.
The set looks good, although production values are more Kenwright than National Theatre.
I kept wishing this HAD been an NT production, and Judi Dench and Maggie Smith had got their teeth into the aunts.
Summary: a show to take your mum to, if she's not that bothered what to see. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
21 Feb 03
A fun night out all round, if over-long but I think we'll find that, come the opening night, there will be cuts - there's quite a few bits of business that could be excised without problems. Michael Richards is stand-out superb - very Kramer-esque - and Thelma Barlow and Marcia Warren are wonderful. I have a feeling, though, that the critics may not share this view... - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
20 Feb 03
Very funny. A great night out. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
19 Feb 03
I thought it zipped along and there isn't a line that could be cut as its a so well crafted piece of writing. Stephen Tompkinson handles the difficult part of being the fall guy that holds everything together with real aplomb - I didn't know he would be as good on stage as he is on film. This is a real ensemble piece with everyone making the most of their wonderfully whacky characters. With regard to accents, in the second interval I asked a couple of Americans sat next to me on Monday night what they thought, being no expert myself, and they were full of praise. Indeed the programme suggest one cast member is a native New Yorker! Its a fun night out - what the West End needs. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
19 Feb 03
I went last night and actually had to leave in the second interval (which is only 5 minutes but still) as I just couldn't take it a second longer. Nobody except Kramer from Seinfeld could do an American accent, Stephen Tompkinson was overdirected to the point of fracture to try and disguise the fact that he CANNOT do physical comedy. And yes, 2 hours 50 minutes is way WAY too long for a "screwball" comedy. The two acts that I managed to suffer through could have used a ruthless scalpel to excise all the fat, and maybe, just maybe, if it had been a two hour two act zany piece of fluff, it might have been tolerable.
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
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