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Because what the Net really needs is another person sharing his uninformed views
Theatre review: Betwixt! 
8th-Aug-2011 11:18 pm
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With riots on the streets of London it's probably ironic (and typical) that I spent the evening retreating into a fantasy world, which is where most of the musical Betwixt! by Ian McFarlane (who also directs) takes place. Bailey (Benedict Salter) has writer's block, and when all seems lost a mysterious locked door is delivered to his apartment, along with new roommate Cooper (Steven Webb) who happens to have found a key. They enter a fantasy kingdom where something something princess, evil enchantress, nuns, something something quest - I think I'm being slightly clearer about the plot than the show itself is. Along the way Bailey meets and falls for the disembodied head of Miranda (Ashleigh Gray) and in the production's big casting coup, original Little Shop of Horrors star Ellen Greene plays a trio of comic characters; Peter Duncan also dares to play three of his own.

This is a lot of silly fun and full of great performances - Webb plays a camp gay actor with an eye for older men (where do these casting people get their ideas?!) and along with Gray gets most of the best lines. The two older actors throw in a lot of charm (and Duncan has a funny turn as the megalomaniac leader of a travelling troupe of actors) while the chorus of Will Hawksworth, Alyssa Nicol, Vicki Lee Taylor and Rob Wilshaw carry a surprisingly large amount of the action, especially in the first act. Salter is rather underpowered both vocally and in trying to give his rather bland lead any personality, and is upstaged at every turn. The songs are also instantly forgettable and while I love a good breaking of the fourth wall, admitting the story's gone a bit silly, calling out big chunks of exposition etc, McFarlane seems to have taken this as carte blanche not to have to worry about a single element of the story making sense, or being even vaguely comprehensible. There's a real feel of a classy cast rising well above the material but it still makes for a fun evening with plenty of laughs - and surely better than the real world at the moment.

Betwixt! by Ian McFarlane is booking until the 10th of September at Trafalgar Studio 2.
Comments 
9th-Aug-2011 08:20 am (UTC)
I accidently saw this last Thursday on my XL weekend in London (Upon arrival we went to TKTS so see what was available for that night, I already had tickets for Richard III on Friday and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead on Saturday) and was pleasantly surprised; what a joyful experience. I agree with your whole review, it was fun!
9th-Aug-2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
They must get a lot of their audience from TKTS, I saw a lot of their tickets last night as well.

How long was Richard III, do you remember? (I'm assuming it was the Kevin Spacey one since Propeller is gone from London now.) I've heard reports of it being as long as 4 hours, but every time I pass the Old Vic on the way home it's dark, as if the show finished hours ago.
9th-Aug-2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, it was the one with Kevin Spacey, I may have mentioned before that I am a fan of him;)
The Old Vic announced it as 3 hours and 15 minutes. It started at 19.30 and was finished at 23.00 (11 p.m.) so that's 3,5 hours including intermission:)
9th-Aug-2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
YIKES. I guess they're just turning the lights off to save energy then. I hope people who leave mid-performance to go to the loo don't end up falling down the stairs in the dark.

Edited at 2011-08-09 02:01 pm (UTC)
9th-Aug-2011 02:07 pm (UTC)
Heh. Maybe they trust the play is mesmerizing enough that people don't think about the toilet? I didn't even leave during the interval. (In case you were wondering: it doesn't feel extremely long;)
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