The very title raises expectations and for me it was a disappointing treat.
Unlike The Dorchester, now showing at the Jermyn Street theatre.
Think of The Producers and here’s another romp through Hitler’s Germaneee. Except that it all takes place within one room of London’s Dorchester Hotel during the war and the Nazis have already goosestepped their way down Whitehall.
Hitler admirers the Duke and Duchess of Windsor are preparing themselves to become titular heads of state, although beneath the preening lurks insecurity. German foreign minister Von Ribbentrop tells them it would be unwise to take their incontinent dog for a quick walkies down Park Lane. Are they under house (hotel) arrest?
And what is the darling of theatreland, Noel Coward, really up to as he breaks off from his sniping bon mots to lock the waiter in a cupboard?
Yes, it’s all a farce played out with crispness of a Heil Hitler salute which only comes to a stutter when the waiter turns out to be B-b-b-bertie, King George VI, disguised in nothing more than a detachable Hitler moustache, trying to thwart his brother’s ambitions.
Tim Faulkner gives a nicely understated, louche performance as the Duke of Windsor, who neither looks (nor thankfully sounds like) Edward Fox. Toni Kanal as Wallis alternates between vamp and vampire as she demands £20m as the price for her loyalty to the Third Reich. Noel (Matthew Phillips) is the manipulative power behind the throne, by turns beguilingly camp and menacing, with Bertie (Alec Walters) shedding his stutter along with the moustache as events reach their denouement.
But not before Matthew Wynn (Ribbentrop) gives one of the most surreal performances of the evening. Picture ‘pub landlord’ Al Murray in jackboots lying on a couch playing Vivienne Lee in Gone with the Wind with a Teutonic/southern belle accent.
A couple of (mercifully brief) scenes are just too silly, even for a farce (brolly fencing and the Duke of Windsor appearing with bagpipes). Scrap these and The Dorchester deserves a showing beyond ‘the fringe’ of Jermyn Street’s small basement venue.
- john bingham
19 Nov 07
This is a very slight play. Anne (played by Billie Piper) strikes me as incredible but, if that's wrong, it is Hampton's fault for failing to give the character anything meaningful to say. As for the acting, Kris Marshall is compelling. However, I could only hear about 1 word in 5 from Billie Piper and Laurence Fox: clearly, no-one has bothered to tell them that acting in the theatre requires projection. - fred
11 Apr 07
Treats received generally good reviews from the critics, the most notable exception being the Telegraph. As usual I find myself more in agreement with Charles Spencer; the direction is stodgy but the main culprit is writer Christopher Hampton. Much of the writing seems lime an attempt to show off, epigrams instead of believable dialogue, particularly for the male characters, although it might have helped if Kris Marshall and Laurence Fox switched roles. I have not been impresssed by Billie Piper's TV acting but here she is the best of an admittedly average bunch, but sadly she has been saddled with an absurd character. It beggars belief that an attractive and apparently intelligent woman would make such appalling choices. For Hampton to claim that Treats could be a feminist play is laughable but in that chauvinistic spirit, one request: if Billie Piper is to take her top off could she at least face the audience - why should it be just Daniel Radcliffe's fans who get all the fun? David Baxter (15.3.07) - David Baxter
19 Mar 07
Loved Hampton's play and can't understand why some critics don't - it seems to me that many haven't understood the social and political bravery of a play that actually seemed deeply feminist both to me and to my girlfriend. There are many women with low self-esteem who would allow themselves to be treated as badly as Billie's character. Coveney's review is an intelligent, well argued review that understands what the production is. Only thing is that I felt the production might have been improved by shortening some of the pauses, although I saw an early preview so it may have tightened up. - Karl Robinson
09 Mar 07
A somewhat slight piece - nowhere near Christopher Hampton's best. Good performances, but a mediocre evening overall. Gareth - Gareth James
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