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Dandy Dick (Birmingham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Dandy Dick, written by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, is a Victorian farce set in the fictional village of St Marvells in 1887. Featuring a stellar cast of comedy actors, Dandy Dick tells the story of the Very Reverend Augustin Jedd, who regularly preaches to his community about gambling and other evils. However when his widowed sister (Georgiana) comes to live with the Dean and his family, she persuades her brother to bet all of his money on her partly owned racehorse, Dandy Dick, to solve all of his money problems.

With elements of mischief, chaos and romance amongst other things; on paper this Theatre Royal Brighton production looks like the perfect theatrical concoction. In reality, I felt it fell slightly short of the mark but nevertheless an enjoyable evening at the theatre.

Adapted and directed by Christopher Luscombe, the production was full of charm and wit in the right places. The farcical theme could have been pushed a little further in my opinion but the acting company as one had clearly gelled to create their own quirks and what they did do was executed well.

Janet Bird’s drawing room setting had a real country English feel which reflected the play’s content. In itself the production is very ‘hoity-toity’ and ‘stiff upper lipped’ in an endearing way and this is exactly the impact that the set portrayed so therefore worked very well. There are just two settings, this one and the ‘police station’ which is essentially a typical Victorian style kitchen. No more was needed to support the text. Paul Pyant’s lighting design worked harmoniously with Bird’s design but was very simple. Apart from transitions between night and day, there is not a great deal to comment on.

Nigel Hess’ music composition was a very welcome component. During the scene change in Act Two, Florence Andrews and Jennifer Rhodes (Salome and Sheba respectively) sang a stunning piece accompanied by Charles de Bromhead on violin. All clearly classically trained and beautifully performed. I would have liked to hear more composition throughout.

Featured cast members, Patricia Hodge and Nicholas Le Prevost gave very good performances as Georgiana and The Very Reverend Augustin Judd; notably the former. Hodge has been very present on our televisions lately, particularly in the fantastic comedy show, Miranda. I wanted to be able to say that Dandy Dick was “such fun!” in tribute to Hodge but overall it didn’t quite make it unfortunately.

Dandy Dick will run at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 25th August.

- Jenny Antill


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