Monday, 14 March 2016

'Guys and Dolls' Savoy Theatre *****

I everlastingly think that revivals of plays and musicals should be recharged in order to preserve the history of not only British Theatre, but international theatre too and the ceaseless amount of Chichester Festival Theatre West End transfers have really sustained the archiving of the dramatic art. The West End transfer of Joe Swerling and Abe Burrows’ 1950’s musical, ’Guys and Dolls’ was an elegantly and engrossing production with extravagant exhibitionism’s throughout which is fabulous to witness.

‘Guys and Dolls’ is set in New York City where we are habituated with Nathan Detroit, the leader of an prosecutable floating crap game, he along with his employees, Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Gavin Spokes), Benny Southstreet (Tom Hayes) and non-employee, Rusty Charlie (Carl Patrick) are finding it incalculably difficult to find a venue for it at Lt Brannigan (William Oxborrow) and the police force are always one step in front of them. Detroit needs $1,000 for the venue so he thinks that if he bets gambler, Sky Masterson that he will not be able to take a woman to Havana, Cuba for a night, therefore, Nathan will be able to pay the owner of the venue the correct amount of money. Throughout the performance, we are taken to the Save-a-Soul Mission which is governed by saintly Sarah Brown and with assistance from her grandfather, Arvide Abernathy (Neil McCaul) who tries to help sinners repent and amend their ways.  However, her mission could be forced to close its doors by General Matilda B Cartwright (Lorna Gayle) as this specific mission hasn’t had a great number of sinners coming forward. As such; when Sky invites Sarah to Havana for the night on the understanding that Sky with bring his fellow gamblers to the mission to an important meeting which with either save the mission or close it altogether.  When they’re in Havana, Sky and Sarah embark on a slight kinship which is helped by the two guzzling down lots of cocktails, yet this transient as Nathan and the other bettors swoop out of the mission where the crap game has been held and Sarah is outraged with Sky as she thinks he knew all about it which is completely untrue.  Nathan’s partner, Miss Adelaide, a dancer has been lying to her folks for years about the fact that she is not really married to Nathan and that their four or five children do not exist. When Brannigan is suspicious of events, they lie and state that what is actually the crap game is in fact Nathan’s surprise stag do.  Upsettingly enough when he does not show up for their elopement as he is managing the crap game in the New York City sewers she is distraught and concerted with Nathan and wants nothing to do with him ever again. In order to show Sarah that he loves her, Sky persuades the gamblers to show up to Sarah’s mission and he is able to provide these in order to impress General Cartwright. Cartwright is impressed with the turn out and even Big Jule (Nic Greenshields) and Benny unintentionally testifies their sins, but when Harry the Horse (Cornelius Clarke) blurts out the truth it makes it awkward with Sky and Sarah. Over the course of this, Nathan opens up about how he held the crap game as he won the bet that Sky couldn’t take Sarah to Havana which stuns Sarah as she realises that Sky’s affections are real. At the finale, Sarah and Adelaide see each other once again and the two of them decide to forgive Sky and Nathan and marry them, a weeks later pass and Nathan now runs a newspaper stand and Sky is now employed by the Save-a-Soul Mission. Swerling and Burrows’ narrative and Frank Loman’s music and lyrics are outstanding and majestically gripping as we can see how gambling and those involved in illegality can revert their ways, plus, the musical numbers like “Guys and Dolls”, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”, “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” had such a high octave of energy and moving moments within them too. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Guys and Dolls’ to be stupefying as vocals, dance sequences and the actual characterisations have been performed with precision and ease, furthermore, they are unbelievably genuine and not false whatsoever. Sophie Thompson is scintillating as Miss Adelaide; particularly when you can see how that because Nathan has treated her so badly in the past that this makes her quite strong but when she is stood up by Nathan as they are about to elope, you can see that her emotions are put to the test and she is finally able to accept that Nathan is untrustworthy. David Haig is alluring as the chief gambler, Nathan Detroit; primarily how the status he has a gambler has made him an easy target for the police and the desperation he has in trying to get the money for the venue shows that he positons gambling before his partner, Miss Adelaide which I find quite repulsive. Jamie Parker is remarkable as Sky Masterson; expressly how lovely it is to see how the development of his feelings for Sarah depicts that he is ready to move on with his life to something more honourable and in actual fact he has a smouldering presence that exudes through his facial expressions and vocals. Siubhan Harrison is wonderful as Save-a-Soul Mission manager, Sarah Brown; exclusively how her somewhat tense presence does soften as Sky makes a move on her and it appears that she doesn’t really attract male attention all that often, as well as, the scenes with Sky are sweet. 

Gordon Greenberg’s direction is glistening here and with awesome choreography by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright the three have been able to refresh this production into something original that is what you’d like to see from a revival as it’s easy to copy someone’s work but this has not been the case here, additionally, the journey of gamblers and those around them has been interpreted to perfection.  Peter McKintosh’s design is absolutely fabulous as we are categorically transported to the New York City 1950’s environment as the scenic art and construction departments have really encapsulated both the NYC sewers, the Save-a-Soul Mission and the Havana nightlife with a high-quality finish and the costumes were transcendent too. Overall, the experience of, ‘Guys and Dolls’ was one of such luminosity and a revival that is poignant in reigniting the history of the international musical with finesse.

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