Okay, ready for this? Harry (Dan Taylor) hears that an uncle he's never met has died leaving him $6 million, provided Harry carries out his uncle's last wishes to the letter. The will says that Uncle Tony's corpse (played cryptically by James Milton) must be shown the hot spots of Monte Carlo, otherwise the money goes to dog's home trustee Annabel (the delectable Hannah Tollman).
To protect their financial interests, but with increasing interest in each other, Harry and Annabel watch each other like hawks - and they both watch the benign and benevolent corpse of uncle Tony who, for all his deadness, makes a significant contribution to the enjoyment of this funny play as he lolls around the Riviera hotspots.
All this action is achieved in the bistro-like auditorium of the Canal Café Theatre. Director Emma Taylor uses the space brilliantly in partnership with choreographer Jack Rebaldi. Given that the latter is currently appearing himself in Cats, it's little surprise his moves for can-can dancer Dominique (Gemma Morsley) contain more than enough erotic zest to loosen up the collars of the non-combatants in the audience.
Further complications are added to the plot admixture by the claims of Tony's former boss' widow Rita (a rapacious Nancy Baldwin) with whom the deceased, in his more active days, had an amorous liaison. In the mayhem of Rita's dexterous derring-do, we come to know that the corpse is "having the best time of his life in Monte Carlo - without even knowing it".
Of course, we all know Harry is going to end up with Annabel, but what a journey it proves to be. Lucky Stiff is stuffed with good songs, action, red herrings, nutty characters, bare flesh and well worn clichés. Justin Giles has a freewheeling and blissfully uninhibited evening playing everyone from a slick solicitor to a catholic nun, while man mountain Andre Lillis is singularly noticeable whoever he turns his hand to.
Musical director Matt Malone is sensitive to the undulations of the Stephen Flaherty's music and the book and lyrics of Lynn Ahrens. Previously produced at the Bridewell, it is in good hands again. It will travel, and it will travel well.
- John Timperley