Anna Francolini as Victor/Victoria
Where: Inner London
5 November 2012 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews It's a shame that just as the Southwark Playhouse really begins to come into its own with a spate of great musicals ( The Busybody, Mack and Mabel) and plays ( Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, I Am A Camera), that it should be uprooted from its home in London Bridge and forced out to the wilds of Elephant and Castle.
It remains to be seen whether its audience will follow it out there, but it can at least be proud of having finished in style, with its final musical – staged with flair in the Vault – proving a strong contender for best yet.
Victor/Victoria is the tale of a lady soprano who becomes a female impersonator, finding huge success - and a complex love story - in the process. Confused? Don't be, this clean and clear production will explain all.
Anna Francolini is a strong actor and vocally pleasant, with a style reminiscent of Julie Andrews, but she doesn't entirely convince as Victor/Victoria. Her wig (by Jessica Kell) is wholly unconvincing when she is still Victoria and you never truly believe that anyone could mistake her for a man. The real star of the evening, then, is Richard Dempsey, whose turn as the effervescent Toddy is both hilarious and uplifting.
Wonderful lines proliferate – “It’s Victor!” “I don’t care if it’s Noel fucking Coward!” “You must have been in the army?” “…once or twice…” and Dempsey anchors the production with elan, although director “ The real star of the evening is Richard Dempsey, whose turn as the effervescent Toddy is both hilarious and uplifting ” Thom Southerland may need to rethink the intent of the late scene between Bernstein (a fine Michael Cotton) and Toddy – it’s not clear whether it’s meant to be hilarious or moving, with the audience plumping for the former on press night.
Luke Johnson is by far the best dancer of the night; his stunning lines, expert tumbling and complete commitment to his craft surely boosting the rest of the ensemble’s work. Matthew Cutts makes a strong King Marchand, convincingly wracked with confusion over his feelings for Victor/Victoria – “I don’t care if you’re a man-” “I’m not!” “I still don’t care…”.
The quibble then is the speed and ease with which everything is resolved. Of course this is not real life, but it all seems a little too convenient, with happy endings for all. It would also be interesting to know how many revisions were made to the original script for this production – some of the language seems incredibly modern, and the gay love theme is almost startling in its boldness.
Overall, though, this is a joy to watch, some fantastic dancing ("Jazz Hot") and singing ("Victor/Victoria") creating a snappy, laugh-a-minute night.
Miriam Zendle Related Content
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
To Kill A Mockingbird Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in a revival of Our Town. Now he’s back, newly renown... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... Robert Sean Leonard leaves 1st Night Photos: House for the Open Air Timothy Sheader's production of To Kill A Mockingbird opened at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre last ... Disgraced The timing of this UK premiere of Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced is eerily apposite in light of yesterd... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Clint Eastwood on board to direct Jersey Boys film? Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has reportedly been signed up to direct the film version of Jersey B... Tanzi Libre First things first, it's great to see the Southwark Playhouse open again. Set halfway down New... Michael Coveney: Big Apple bites and Manhattan memories You should always do new things in familiar cities. Over the past few days in New York, I walked a... : Kendal & co in Podcast Relatively Speaking Q&A Last night (21 May 2013), 140 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers attended Relatively Speaking at the West...