REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at The Mayflower, Southampton

Carley Stenson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Carley Stenson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
As You Like It, with Jessica Hayles centre. Picture by Keith Pattison

How do you like it? Gender and politics in Shakespeare at the New Theatre Royal

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Move over Frank Abagnale, here’s a tale of conmanship likely to hoodwink anyone into hysterics.

Fans of the source 1988 movie may find themselves comparing the performances here with Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenne Headly, but that’s not exactly fair.

There’s little time for the darkly genuis deadpan deliveries of the original.

This musical production aims to sweep you along in waves of fast-paced laughs, clever coincidences, silly songs and Strictly-style dancing.

Michael Praed is ace as the raffish Jameson, the master conman of the French Riviera, duping rich and adventure-craving dilettantes out of their fortunes with finesse.

Along comes Freddy, played less ably by Noel Sullivan, an American shyster who falls into competition with Jameson for the love and money of Christine Colgate – Carley Stenson of Hollyoaks fame.

The show got off to a shaky start as the actors warmed to their roles, but they had the tone of the piece nailed by the hilarious build-up to the intermission.

There’s nothing to challenge or intimidate – think of it as an old-school flurry of more-or-less clean musical comedy that would perfectly suit the vibe of a cruise ship. It’s kitschy and a lot of fun. Take your mum.

Until Saturday.