If offered $6,000,000 to take the body of a recently deceased relative on holiday, would you do it?
This marks the setting of a dark comedy, filled with hilarious chills, thrills and surprises along the way. With a simplistic set and a few magic tricks potted around the stage to enhance the seamless scene changes, the company weave their tale in front of your eyes. At times you would think you were watching a favourite television soap opera with its Fawlty Tours and Monty Python-esque quality. The cast seem to enjoy performing the piece just as much as the audience like watching it.
Based on Michael Butterworth’s novel, The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo, this musical follows the antics of unassuming English shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon who is left $6,000,000 in a will, having to follow his deceased Uncle Tony’s dying wish to go on vacation to Monte Carlo. Even though his expenses are paid and he is in the lap of luxury, he must obey his uncle’s every whim, pushing his relative around in a wheelchair. If that wasn’t enough, a charity worker with a love for furry friends is hot on his ‘tail’ claiming that if he makes one false move, the money belongs to her. The neurotic mistress of Uncle Tony is close behind, demanding her cut and dragging along her optometrist brother for the ride. This production has lots of hiding in closets, gun shots galore and even a tap dancing corpse!
Robert McWhir waves his directorial wand once again showing that he is no stranger to Stephen Flaherty’s work, having directed the award winning ‘Ragtime’ at the Landor last year. He works wonders bringing these characters to life and each one you find a reason to love. James Winter does well to remain the real person in the show, with an almost invisible personality that is forced into the spotlight with a tricky situation and a host of colourful caricatures. When the bug hits him, he unleashes a beautiful voice and a heart to make yours break. Miles Western and Lucy Williamson shine as the brother and sister double act, occasionally stealing the show. With Fran Drescher qualities, Williamson possesses the comedy talent that takes the stage by storm and it is often hard to watch others while she is strutting her stuff. Mark Hayden’s recorded voices follow the story, adding a darker tone to the character you see sitting in the wheelchair. Only once you’ve recognised the man behind the voice can relaxation begin. His charming persona gives the production a mature edge that can sometimes get lost in the craziness and fun. Abigail Jaye is the secret weapon of this fun musical. Possessing outstanding vocal talents, this rather unconventional leading lady is both truthful and a lovely presence on stage. I challenge anyone who doesn’t fall in love with this girl once she utters her first lines. However, where would this show be without its talented ensemble consisting of Ryan Bernstein, Thomas Lloyd, Samantha Ridings and Jenna Ryder-Oliver? They sing, act and salsa their way through, playing a selection of different characters and how wonderfully they do so.
If you are looking for an enjoyable evening, full of laughs, spills and the occasional thrill then this is the show for you. Pop along to the Landor Theatre, where it’s all happening and ‘Something Funny’s Going On’!
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By Brendan-Matthew Murphy @brenmatthew
Runs until 25th February 2012
Landor Theatre, London, SW9.