Guardsman Closes Early & Dickens Moves InDate: 16 October 2000
Janet Suzman's revival of Ferenc Molnar's The Guardsman, starring Greta Scacchi, has achieved one of the fastest closures in recent West End history. The production, which only opened at the Albery Theatre last Wednesday 11 October (previews from 4 October), has already posted early closing notices. It had been booking to 25 November 2000 but will now close on 28 October, just two and a half weeks after its opening night. The Guardsman will be replaced at the Albery by The Mystery of Charles Dickens, which stars Simon Callow and has been playing at the Comedy Theatre since 6 September.
Even before its arrival in the West End, while touring regionally, there had been rumours that The Guardsman production was troubled. One producer reportedly pulled out, causing the fees of the actors and others involved to be slashed and putting the future of the West End run in jeopardy. Generally poor reviews from the London-based press didn't help.
Molnar's 1910 backstage comedy centres around Nandor, a lovelorn and long suffering actor, who is consumed by jealousy of his actress wife Ilona's admirers. Intent on testing Ilona's fidelity, Nandor disguises himself and attempts to seduce his own wife. But will she or won't she take the bait?
Scacchi, who plays Ilona, is best known for her roles in films such as Presumed Innocent, White Mischief, Heat and Dust, Shattered and Jefferson in Paris. Her stage credits include Uncle Vanya in the West End in 1998 and last year's Chichester Festival production of Easy Virtue. She plays opposite stage veteran Michael Pennington as Nandor. Pennington's many theatre credits include An Ideal Husband, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, The Misanthrope, Major Barbara, Filumena andTimon of Athens.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens, by Dickens biographer Peter Ackroyd, gives an insight into the Victorian life and times of Dickens, interweaving his own turbulent story with some of his most memorable fictional characters from Mr Micawber to Mrs Gamp, Bill Sykes to Miss Havisham.
Callow, who plays the author and his characters in the one-man piece, was last seen in the West End at the Savoy in 1997, where he recreated another famous writer in the one-man play, The Importance of Being Oscar, a celebration of Oscar Wilde. The same creative team that brought Oscar to the stage returns for The Mystery of Charles Dickens, including director Patrick Garland, designer Christopher Woods and lighting designer Nick Richings.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens opened at the Comedy Theatre on 6 September (previews from 30 August) and had been booking there to 4 November. It has now closed this weekend and will reopen at the Albery on 30 October.