Tuesday, 4 July 2017

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.

The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stitch up the Lords, and the wildest of nights is guaranteed.

A succession of Porter's hits are powered by an eight-piece jazz combo led by Jon Beales, with a well-drilled chorus of servants stepping up to play the secondary roles among a cast of seventeen.

As Tracy, Helen Mallon swishes her way through a wardrobe-load of costume changes, lending her a studied indifference that only thaws once she hits the bottle. Her assorted suitors are played with stylistic verve, with Alex Scott Fairley's Dexter sparring gamely with Alan Mirren's George. As randy Uncle Willie, Mark Faith shows there's plenty of life in the old dog yet in a show where love, not money, wins the day in a class act on every level.

The Herald, July 4th 2017

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