REVIEW: Dandy Dick – Theatre Royal Glasgow, Patricia Hodge and Nicholas Le Prevost

Apologies for the tardy posting. The first show out of the stable of the recently launched Theatre Royal Brighton Productions, a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), is this revival of Arthur Wing Pinero’s rarely seen English comedy Dandy Dick, starring Patricia Hodge and Nicholas Le Provost (whom I last saw literally bursting out of the doors of a pub in Soho with Jonathan Pryce).

Helmed by the company’s artistic director Christopher Luscombe its run here in Glasgow is part of an eight-week UK tour before a planned West End transfer.

Dandy Dick, written in Brighton in 1887 – tells the story of the Very Reverend Augustin Jedd (Le Prevost), a pillar of Victorian respectability, who preaches regularly against the evils of horse racing and gambling. However, a visit from his tearaway sister, Georgiana (Hodge), leads him to risk all at the races, much against his better judgement. Mayhem ensues, with romantic intrigue, mistaken identity and a runaway horse.

Dandy Dick last had a major production in a 1987 tour, and was last revived in the West End in 1973 with Alistair Sim and Patricia Routledge.

This is a trip back to Victorian Theatre with a bit of a wink to the 21st Century. With actors of the calibre of Hodge and Le Provost it was always going to be a winner: both showed immaculate comic timing and remarkable restraint in material that could so easily have tipped over into pantomime territory. Ably supported by television stalwarts Michael Cochrane and John Arthur along with the all-singing and acting Florence Andrews and Jennifer Rhodes and the violin playing Charles De Bromhead, this is an old-fashioned piece of fun of the highest quality, an amusing and diverting evening’s entertainment.

As a footnote:

Commenting on the Theatre Royal Brighton Productions inaugural production, ATG joint CEO Howard Panter said it was indicative of a growing trend: “There is a renaissance happening in regional theatre, and we have undoubtedly seen a shift from the centre of the theatrical landscape being London – from Sussex to Scotland and everything in between, audiences are keen to see quality plays without travelling many miles for the pleasure.”

ATG is the UK’s biggest theatre owner, with a portfolio included 27 major regional receiving houses. The group’s recent pre-London box office successes have included Zach Braff’s All New People and the National Theatre tour of One Man, Two Guv’nors, both reviewed on this blog.