Posts Tagged ‘Kelly Burke’

Well, they may have big budgets and people off the telly in that theatre north of the river where another musical comedy thriller adapted from a film, American Psycho, has just closed but there’s as much fun to be had with this one south of the river at The Landor.

First staged in 1987, based on William Goldman’s 1964 novel (as was the 1968 film), Douglas J Cohen’s show is about serial killer Christopher (Kit) Gill whose mother, a famous broadway actress, has recently died. Kit never lived up to her expectations and having failed to make it as an actor, he sets out on a mission to find fame through murder. DI Morris Brummell pursues him, as well as pursuing his new love interest, whilst trying to live up to his own mother’s expectations. Several deaths later, Kit gets his wish – the front page of the New York Times – but he doesn’t stop there.

It’s a clever little story, which has an excellent book without a wasted moment and a fine score with witty lyrics. It’s very funny at times, but also manages enough tension to justify the description comedy thriller. Robert McWhir’s staging is slick and nimble and he has assembled a superb cast. Nicholas Chave leads a fine 5-piece band with some distinctive orchestration involving woodwind and xylophone.

Simon Loughton is a suitably creepy master of disguise and Graham Mackay-Bruce an the archetypal NYC DI, both outstanding with particularly fine vocal performances. Judith Paris is simply wonderful playing both (living and dead) nagging mothers and all of Kit’s victims with a handful of frocks and wigs and some quick changes. Kelly Burke completes the foursome as Morris’ girlfriend, vying with the killer for Morris’ attentions.

2013 was a great year for the Landor and this is a great start to 2014. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you’re there in this last week

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I’m puzzled that this fine play has taken 10 years to get here. Four of playwright Rebecca Gilman’s other plays have made swifter transfers to the Royal Court and this is at least as good as them.

The play opens as a ‘massage parlour’ is raided by two cops. Their incompetence means prosecutions don’t follow, but what does is two unlikely relationships. Doug’s with Heather is all lust and Curt with Sandy more friendship, though it’s this one that is the heart of the play and the one which has most consequences. To say I was surprised how it turned out is a compliment to the writing, but I won’t spoil it.

The play benefits from the intimacy of the Finborough and Che Walker’s direction is subtle and sensitive. James Hillier and Clare Latham as Curt and Sandy, who have to carry the emotional weight of the play, are both terrific. Alexander Gulney and Samantha Coughlan, as Doug and Heather, have to make very different and more transformational journeys and do so extremely well. Kelly Burke provides fine support as Curt’s girlfriend Beth. The American accents are excellent, without benefit of the dialect coaches bigger theatres employ with nowhere near as good results – though Clare Latham is a native speaker!

This is a cleverly structured play with excellent characterisation and its beautifully performed. What more can you ask for? The Finborough on fine form again.

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