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Some Like It Hotter (tour - Ipswich, New Wolsey Theatre)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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There's a lot to be said for having second thoughts. Take, for instance, Richard Hurford's fantasy Some Like It Hotter. I saw this in its earlier incarnation two years ago. For this extended tour, Hurford has expanded the cast from four to six actor-musicians and re-cast one of the roles. By so doing he and his director Karen Simpson have turned an agreeable little fribble into something altogether more thought-provoking.

We find ouselves in a sort of comfortable Purgatory, where the not-so-bad – but equally not-so-perfect – play out their time before going on to The Other (Higher) Place. Film stars Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe are tasked with accommodating their recently deceased fans. The latest of these is Charlie, who arrives in a fog of uncertainty and disbelief.

As with those who have preceded him, Charlie (as was his late mother) is a word-perfect fan of the film Some Like It Hot. We all know that fans can become dangerously obsessive and that attempts to turn fiction into fact lead to disaster in real life. So, in transpires, it has been with Charlie's mother, a woman whose excessively glamorous appearance combined with her pursuit of equally unsuitable men have led to adult condemnation mushrooming into playground bullying.

All this comes out slowly, as the three stars draw Charlie into the topsy-turvy world of the film for which they will always be remembered. It's punctuated by music of the Twenties and Thirties arranged by Neil MacDonald which is very well played and put over by the cast. Sarah Applewood's Marilyn hints at the troubled persona behind the image and is much more than a mere lookalike. Paul Matania catches the spikiness of Tony, just as newcomer Daniel Lloyd suggests Jack's own ease with himself undet any circumstance.

But the centre of the show is Charlie, to whom Patrick Bridgman brings a fine balance of pathos and stoicism. He's very funny dressed up as a band member and immensely moving as he reveals (yet without apportioning blame) what a true hell his life at home as his mother degenerated must have been. Jane Linz Roberts' set suggests theatrical make-believe very well.

My one great criticism of this reworking would be for the false ending; the coda may set our minds at ease over Charlie, but perhaps we would have preferred to be left guessing just a little?

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