Monday 7 September 2015

Dusty - Review

Charing Cross Theatre, London


Directed by Chris Cowey

Alison Arnopp

Dusty is a show that has attracted a huge amount of challenging press during a troubled preview run that has lasted many months. So it is a brave (and largely new) cast that step up tonight to take their bows before the press. 

To those in the audience used to an evening of well-crafted entertainment – for which London’s theatre scene both on and off West End is rightly praised, the evening is a dreadful disappointment. The glorious brass-heavy chords of Pino Donaggio’s You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me open the proceedings (always a worry when the biggest number opens a show) and from then on its downhill all the way.

Alison Arnopp tries to be an energetic lead, but Dusty she ain’t. I’ve seen better Springfield tributes. To be fair though Arnopp’s blushes are spared for much of the evening as the iconic songs are more often than not played back via poorly synched videotapes from the 60s. And when it’s not VT, the stagehands are (noisily) putting up and taking down the paraphernalia that projects a holographic Dusty. They needn’t waste their time.  

It’s not just Dusty’s technology that disappoints. The script is dire too, though maybe for a show set in the 1950s/60s, for the dialog to sound as wooden as a Crossroads episode of Crossroads was possibly intentional?

There are glimpses of human talent on stage – Whitney White’s Martha Reeves offers the evening’s one moment that comes close to spine-tingling, whilst Francesca Jackson’s Nancy, (and not so long ago, one of the BBC’s Nancys too) duetting with Arnopp in How Can I Be Sure, goes a long way to confirming Jackson’s star quality. 

But you know what? This show is gonna make its money back and then some.

Britain is (in part) a nation laden with Baby Boomer grannies who LOVE Dusty Springfield. Their failing vision may (thankfully) not allow them to spot the difference between actor and avatar, but they’ll happily hand over their hard-earned pension to let the nostalgia wash over them. Mark my words.

Now booking to 21st November

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