REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Another production fresh from a run in the West End and now hoofing it up and down the UK is David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, bringing the sunny south of France to a chilly Glasgow this week.

Based on the 1988 Steve Martin/Michael Caine movie where two rival con men vie for the attention and the bank balances of rich ladies, old and young, in beautiful Beaumont sur Mer.

Suave, sophisticated charmer Lawrence Jameson’s (Michael Praed) ruse is to pose as a prince to fleece his victims of their fortunes, whilst rival Freddy Benson (Noel Sullivan) is a masterclass in vulgarity, a fraudster who will do anything to pay for his next feed.

When the pair realise the town ain’t big enough for the both of them, a wager is laid down – the first to swindle €50000 from soap heiress Christine Colgate, gets to stay in town, the loser, packs his bags.

It may seem like an unlikely source of musical theatre material, it was always a lightweight story and writer Jeffrey Lane has done little to elevate the original movie script, leaving it languishing as a piece of fluff, albeit a very attractive looking piece of fluff.

David Yasbek’s songs are more set piece than plot-driver, but they are pleasant enough and feature just about ever style of song you can think of in the theatrical cannon: ‘Oklahoma’ (not that one) is a tongue in cheek country and western treat, Oompah number ‘Ruffhousin’ mit Shuffhuasen’ delivers the laughs, there’s tango and salsa too, and there’s even a great big power ballad (replete with X-Factor style backing choir) ‘Love is my Legs’. Worthy of note though is the exemplary band under the lively baton of Ben Van Tienen, who sound rich and musically on-point throughout.

The cast do their best with the material at hand, the fourth wall is broken throughout but this often misused device works well here. Michael Praed in a role he’s born for, is a smooth, suave, sophisticated charmer with a sonorous voice. Noel Sullivan actually brings a warmth and charm to the previously uncharming Freddy, Carley Stenson is a fine voiced Christine, and Phoebe Coupe wrings the most out of her hick-from-the- sticks character Jolene, but it’s the ever-popular Mark Benton as Lawrence’s right hand man and unlikely lothario, French police chief Andre, who garners the biggest laughs.

The comedy often feels like it’s from another era and considering the source material is almost 30 years old and the musical itself, though only appearing in the West End in 2014, has been doing the rounds in the US since 2004, it’s may be no surprise, but it really does need revision – is there really a need for saucy maids in suspenders and bottomless dresses in 2015 – c’mon.

There’s nothing new here, it’s not a groundbreaking work but it’s glitzy, glamorous, undemanding and undeniably entertaining and the cast and band are of the highest class.

Runs until Saturday 27th June 2015 then touring.

This article was originally written for and published for The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/dirty-rotten-scoundrels-kings-theatre-glasgow/