Toby Young Alienates West End with CommittedDate: 30 September 2004
Toby Young (pictured), the theatre critic of the Spectator magazine, will himself face the critics when he takes to the stage next month to perform the one-man show based on his memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. As previously tipped (See The Goss, 27 Sep 2004), the play will transfer to the West End’s Arts Theatre, where it will open on 28 October 2004 (previews from 25 October) and will run concurrently with another New York-set one-man show Fully Committed (See The Goss, 23 Sep 2004), now playing on the London fringe at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Tim Fountain’s dramatisation of Young’s book premiered in April 2003 at Soho Theatre, when the dashing screen star Jack Davenport (This Life, Coupling, The Talented Mr Ripley) played the part of the rather more petite and folically challenged Young. For the West End transfer, other names in the frame included Tom Hollander. However, a statement released today explains that “having been let down by a proper A-list actor at the 11th hour”, Young decided to undergo “last-minute, rigorous actor training” in order to play himself on stage.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People picks up the journalist’s life story in 1995, when he was offered the dream job of being an editor on Vanity Fair. Relocating from London to New York, Young hoped to follow in the British media footsteps of Alistair Cooke, Tina Brown and Anna Wintour by taking Manhattan by storm. Instead, within the space of two years, he was fired, banned from the city's most fashionable bar and dateless.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is Young's account of the five years he spent working his way down the New York food chain, from glossy magazine editor to crash-test dummy for interactive sex toys. Not a complete failure, the experience did provide material for his book which, published in the UK in 2002, became a bestseller and is now being developed for the big screen.
At the Arts, 9.00pm performances of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People will be preceded each evening by Fully Committed. Like Young’s piece, Becky Mode’s award winner is a one-man play that lampoons the upper echelons of New Yorker society. It was first seen in New York in 1999, where Mark Setlock originated the part of struggling actor-cum-reservation maker Sam as well as more than 40 other telephonic characters, most of whom will go to extraordinary lengths to bag a top table at Manhattan’s hottest restaurant.
Setlock won rave reviews here for his London reprisal at the new Southwark-based fringe venue, the Menier Chocolate Factory, where Fully Committed opened in July and has extended to 17 October. It will open in the West End on 1 November 2004 (previews from 25 October). Currently at the Arts, the one-woman show Bombshells, starring Caroline O'Connor, will now finish its run two weeks early, on 16 October (See Today’s Other News).
- by Terri Paddock