Monday, 29 October 2018

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Oct 28, 2018

NB: This short review will appear only on this blog. It is not written for, or published in Herald Sun. I've been having a break from reviewing. KH
Music & Lyrics by Steven Lutvak;  Book & Lyrics by Robert L Freedman; Based on novel by Roy Horniman; by The Production Company
At Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, until November 18, 2018
Reviewer: Kate Herbert; reviewed on Sun Oct 28, 2018

Alec Guinness’s inimitable virtuoso portrayal of multiple characters in the British comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets, inspired me as child to choose a career in character comedy (Yes, I was doing that long before reviewing!).

This daffy, Tony award-winning musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, is the same story with a different title and, in a nod to Guinness’s performance, Mitchell Butel plays all eight, toffy members of the D’Ysquith family.

With consummate comic timing and versatile characterisation, Butel plays pompous aristocrats, a camp dandy, a blousy dame, an execrable actress, a lisping vicar and the refined head of the D’Ysquith family. 

Chris Ryan is in fine voice playing Monty Navarro, the penniless clerk who discovers he is ninth in line to be Lord D’Ysquith. But the D’Ysquiths dismiss Monty’s claim so he starts knocking off all eight heirs to the Earldom. Monty narrates his story from a jail cell. 

The show is a diverting night in the theatre, with plenty of laughs at the expense of these upper class Twits and lots of quirky character performances by Butel. 

The orchestra is tight and finely tuned, but the songs (music & lyrics, Steven Lutvak; book & lyrics, Robert L Freedman), despite their witty lyrics and smart rhymes, all start to sound the same in the end. 

This show is like Gilbert and Sullivan colliding with Oscar Wilde and an old fashioned Ealing comedy. It's fun and frivolous but it breaks no new ground in musical theatre.
by Kate Herbert

Mitchell Butel -all eight members D’Ysquith family
Chris Ryan -Monty Navarro
Nancye Hayes- Miss Shingle 
Alinta Chidzey – Sibella Hallward
Genevieve Kingsford – Phoebe D’Ysquith

Roger Hodgman director
Kellie Dickerson Musical Director
Isaac Lummis Costumes
Christine Smith Set
Matt Scott Lighting
Production Company Orchestra
Dana Jolly choreography