From West End to Curve

Two super productions Serenading Louie by Lanford Wilson and John Bunchan’s classic spy thriller – The 39 Steps, both in Leicester only from 6 to 10 April. Witty and fun – you simply can’t miss!

Serenading Louie by Lanford Wilson, directed by Simon Curtis
Donmar Warehouse

To put it simply, Serenading Louie equals marriage and adultery in Chicago suburbs in the early 1970’s. Two couples, all long time mates from Northwestern University – are caught up in quite cliché cycle of betrayals and guilt covered under the mask of upper middle class successful life.

The play takes place during late hours when husbands and wives, having had too much drink or too little sleep, are irritated even sitting together on the same sofa, let alone sleeping in one bedroom, not too mention one bed.

Wonderful creations of Alex by Jason Butler Harner, Gabrielle by Charlotte Emmerson, Carl by Jason O’Mara and Mary by Geraldine Sommerville are realistic and down to the earth. With American openness, they go back in their discussions to the Uni times with undoubtedly nostalgic notes.    

Alex and Carl are facing harsh reality of adulthood, mannerism, lost dreams and burnt out passions. Hopelessly, struggling to keep their marriages and professional careers alive, they are desperately trying to make sense of their realities.

Yet again, very convincing set makes you feel that you are almost peeping on your next door neighbours who speak with American accent and apparently aren’t as happy as it seems.

Joanna Gulbinska

 The 39 Steps by John Buchan, adapted by Patrick Barlow, directed by Maria Aitken

The 39 Steps is a heroic tale of Richard Hannay who inadvertently gets mixed up in a spy ring and framed for murder before evading his pursuers to save the nation.

Having read the book or seen one of the three film adaptations will not prepare you for this latest award winning of theatreatical classic offering at Curve. Directed by Maria Aitken the play takes the audience on a journey to Scotland and back with all the elements of the book brought together with superb comic staging.

The fast moving play uses techniques from a bygone era and clever devices to transport you along every step of the hero’s journey with a green on your face. Seldom do comedies deliver as effectively as this production does.

The comic timing and delivery by the cast of four is best illustrated by an early scene where every time Richard looks out of the window a pair of dodgy looking spies appear standing with a lamp post and disappearing as the hero looks away. It’s a simple device but in the hands of the talented Richard Braine, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Katherine Kingsley and Dan Starkey leaves the audience in fits of belly laughs.

This production is the epiphany of everything that is great about English theatre, from the casting by John Manning to the set design by Peter McKintosh and witty direction by Aitken.

There is something about a body of people struggling to curtail their laughter that leaves you with a warm glow and a smile long after the final curtain. This is one show worthy of the name comedy and not to be missed.

Martin Westall

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