REVIEW: Sweet Bird of Youth at Chichester Festival Theatre

Marcia Gay Harden and Brian J Smith star in Sweet Bird of Youth at Chichester Festival Theatre. PICTURE: Johan Persson
Marcia Gay Harden and Brian J Smith star in Sweet Bird of Youth at Chichester Festival Theatre. PICTURE: Johan Persson
Lucy MayBarker, centre, performs on stage in Mamma Mia!

Feelgood fun is The Name of The Game for Mamma Mia!

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Oh, how time flies when you’re having fun. Well, minus the fun part for the two main characters in this play – but what can’t pills, liquor and a bit of male castration cure?

Tennessee Williams’s hedonistic, languishing look at the fleetingness of youth is seen through the weary eyes of a middle-aged silver screen idol fleeing her fear of failure, and Chance Wayne, a gigolo selling himself for a chance to become immortalised as a star.

Making her UK theatre debut as Alexandra Del Lago, Tony and Oscar award winner Marcia Gay Harden lives up to her reputation, imbuing some self-earnt star quality into her performance.

Her ability to catch the eye is a double-edged sword though – one which director Jonathan Kent should have prepared for – and is evident during one of Chance’s monologues when the audience was distracted by Del Lago applying her make-up.

However, this is not a reflection of Brian J Smith’s acting, who was the third-best thing about this production, behind the script and the leading lady.

Much like the oxygen-starved Del Lago, the first act began with a bit of a wheeze and a splutter – but it began to find its rhythm before the interval and by the second half it was hyperventilatingly tense, making me realise how invested I was in the characters.

As an audience member of this show, the expression ‘time flies’ comes to mind. Although this play preaches how time will still zip past as fast when you are miserable, for the audience it certainly flies by a lot more enjoyably when the pacing is right.

Until June 24.