Charles Essex reviews Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth
The popular film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine (most people forget the other actor was Steve Martin) is 30 years old but was not made into a musical until 2014. Conmen fleecing rich and lonely women is a curious choice for a play in the current #Me too post-Harvey Weinstein era. But to use a cliché, it is what it is.
Judging by the average age of the first-night audience, it clearly brings back memories of an enjoyable film from the '80s. It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless and choreographer Sally Jolliffe and musical director Claire Taylor deserve special mention for the dance routines and songs, respectively, with all the cast clearly having worked hard at rehearsals to deliver nearly flawless song and dance routines.
There were some first-night teething problems with the sound system as some dialogue was lost in the loud music. Fortunately the main actors were miked-up and the two lead actors, conmen Alex Holmes (Lawrence) and Casey McKernan (Freddy), led a very able cast by example, with Casey and Kevin Coughlan (chief of police, André) maintaining their American and French accents, respectively, throughout.
The clever use of minimal scenery with minor albeit frequent changes allowed a clear floor for the larger dance scenes when the majority of the actors and ensemble were on stage.
The second half in particular allowed much greater use of humour, innuendo and some excellent solos as leading lady Lisa Clifford came into her own. Throughout Claire Griggs, as Muriel, one of those lonesome women, acted out her desperate loneliness well and sang some wonderful solos. The whole play was a very accomplished performance once again showcasing The Priory’s versatile range and depth of talent of its available cast.