Sunday, 11 April 2010

London Assurance.

Off to the National to see the ludicrous Dion Boucicault play London Assurance.

The star studied cast took the opportunity of an unusual Sunday afternoon outing to revel in their own sense of fun. It's as close to a pantomime as I've seen in the Olivier and by the middle of the second half I'd lost almost all interest in the slim story and was left to enjoy the competitive playing as the actors took it in turns to try and corpse and out do each other. Perhaps artistic director Nick Hytner decided that taking the reigns off might be the only way to accommodate Simon Russell Beale, Fiona Shaw and Richard Briers on stage simultaneously. Perhaps he's right? There's fantastic support from Michelle Terry, Paul Ready and Mark Addy - all of whom you fancy can give as good as they get, even when on stage with the naughtiest of actors.

In many ways the show is a reaffirmation of Hytner's blueprint for a successful Theatre. It's broad, operatic, camp and populist - decidedly not a place for introverts or puritans. Occasionally though it leaves me longing for subtler, more ambiguous shades.

It is, however, an approach culturally in tune with our inclusive times where emotionally empathy takes precedence over intellectual complexity. It's theatre as celebration, where everybody is welcome, and in the hands of the cavaliers works brilliantly well.

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