REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Milton Keynes Theatre

Michael Praed and Noel Sullivan in Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsMichael Praed and Noel Sullivan in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Michael Praed and Noel Sullivan in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

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The Creagh/Carr Review started as a double edged whammy giving two reviews for the price of one - the views of elderly hackette Bev Creagh and queer young blade Stewart Carr.

So far they’ve been in almost complete agreement about what they’ve seen - until Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – which opened at Milton Keynes Theatre last night.

CREAGH SAYS... I loved this musical comedy with former matinee idol Michael Praed as ageing lothario Lawrence Jameson conning women out of their money, jewels, inheritance - and more.

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The suave swindler takes an inept American - Noel Sullivan hamming it up as Freddy Benson - under his wing and promises to show him the tricks of his trade.

The duo then attempt to outdo each other with widow Muriel Eubanks (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and Miss Colgate (Carley Stenson).

In between, Lawrence has a lucky escape from American oil heiress Jolene Oakes (Phoebe Coupe) and Freddy pretends to be a disabled war vet to win sympathy - and a bet.

The set is a stunning art deco take on the French riviera and there are lots of raunchy numbers involving scantily clad dancers.

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There’s a delicious twist in the tale and the whole thing is a merry romp delivered with style and panache.

Just one criticism: the orchestra tends to drown out the musical numbers.

CARR SAYS... Hmmmm. I admit to a prejudice against musicals sometimes ... especially when they’re adaptations of decent movies with a few half-baked songs slapped in.

Michael Praed at least shines as the suave con-artist Lawrence Jameson, who is at times a seductive prince and others a doctor.

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He becomes saddled with a loudmouth yankee named Freddie, who catches on that Mr Jameson is not what he appears.

Freddie, played by ex-Hear’say popstar Noel Sullivan, provides the grating comedy relief of the show.

Determined to out-do each other in a Dangerous Liaisons style battle of wits, they each set their sights on dizzy American heiress Christine Colgate (Carley Stenson) in an attempt to swindle her out of $50,000.

The saving grace is the drunken romance of supporting characters, Mr Jameson’s butler Andre (Gary Wilmot) and energetic singleton Muriel (Geraldine Fitzgerald), whose antics provide a few genuine laughs.

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Accompanied by an ever-grinning troupe of dancers, whose mildly sexist wardrobes veer from ballroom glamour to raunchy French maids flashing off their drawers, it’s run-of-the-mill, slapstick entertainment at best.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels plays at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday September 26. See here for tickets.