Wednesday, 2 August 2017

REVIEW: Americas No 1 Detective at the Drayton Arms

The dingy dark smoke filled room above the Drayton Arms provides an atmospheric setting for this fast moving slick American detective mystery with a strong well rehearsed ensemble cast multitasking to reveal the tale of Vivian O’Connell's quest to reclaim the title of America’s No 1 detective agency.

Anna Marshall has directed , almost choreographed , every move, pose and scene change with the all the cast on stage for most of the 80 minutes running time and when not in the action, posing in white trench-coats and trilbies with a lit cigarette hanging from their mouths as they observe the action like an army of private investigators.

The delightful music from a 2 piece band and singer Isabella Bassett is carefully blended into the story from the opening 1928 “I want to be loved by you”, through a comical pink panther dance and adding appropriate musical effects to underline the plot. Together they create a fun and strong period feel to the evening.

The show is simply set with a table and chair and a freestanding door. The door itself becomes a major feature as it appears to get stuck, requiring the cast to walk around it; if this was a gag, it didn't work and appeared to necessitate various ad libs to cover the fault. One of the most effective scenes is where the cast come together to create a car complete with headlights and interior light.

The result is a Philip Marlowe style story produced like the successful “39 Steps” production which ran for so long in the West End.

The central character Vivian, is played with a swagger and poise by Fleur de Wit, whether talking directly to the audience under a swinging light or slowly revealing the complex relationships between the other characters. She carries much of the show. She is matched by Hamish Adams-Cairns as the current No 1 detective, Bobby Munroe and his amusing English sidekick Teddy Worthington played with English stoicism by Iain Gibbons.

The rest of the cast is Alex Hinson as Betty Channing (who adopts a pose with hands on her hips rather too often), Oliver-David Harrison as the gangster Larry Siegeli and Siobhan Cha Cha as Joey Vincent, Vivian's sidekick.  At times they could have slowed the pace of their delivery to make a clearer impact through their American accents.

However overall, this is a well produced fun evening and deserves a longer run than its 4 nights at the Drayton Arms and offers those not travelling to Edinburgh this month a best of the fringe evening in London.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★
Blog Design by pipdig