Theatre: Radical Swan Lake with a royal twist

Theatre: Radical Swan Lake with a royal twist

Swan Lake is every choreographer’s plaything and Tchaikovsky’s score is always a winner. Graeme Murphy’s radical version for Australian Ballet at the London Coliseum is half-modern and half-traditional, pandering both to those who want something new and to those who want something old. It never quite gels. But despite its flaws, and the juggling with the score, the production is entertaining, often dramatic and the horizontal lifts are particularly buoyant.

The action is re-set in the Edwardian era. Odette (Amber Scott) marries Prince Siegfried (Adam Bull) only to find that he intends to continue his relationship with Baroness von Rothbart. A pas de deux becomes a pas de trois. Audiences in 2002 at the ballet’s premiere in Melbourne instantly saw a parallel with Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Odette expresses her frustration and rage in fouettés and throws herself into the arms of the equerries, one by one, ready to bed them all. She ends up in a sanatorium run by nuns and thinks she is a swan.

Guys and Dolls, the classic Broadway musical at Phoenix Theatre, has a wonderful collection of songs by Frank Loesser.

The first-rate book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, sentimental and witty, is based on Damon Runyon’s The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown and the low-life characters in Runyon’s short stories.

Australian comedian Rebel Wilson, who presented the award for Best Supporting Actor at the 2016 Bafta ceremony and stole the show with her bawdy wit, is now making her London stage debut in a great comedy role: as Miss Adelaide, a dumb cabaret showgirl, who has been engaged to a gambler for 14 years.

Wilson, a big doll, is not afraid to play up to her admirers who expect her to be broad, raunchy and unsubtle. Her diction is not as clear as the more experienced actors. Her best moment is when she is singing Sue Me! and she gets really mad with her fiancé when it looks as if the wedding is going to be called off yet again.

Simon Lipkin, a likeable funny actor and an admirable sheepish foil, is cast as Nathan Detroit, who runs the oldest established crap game in New York and bets Sky Masterson (Oliver Tompsett) that he can’t seduce a Salvation Army sister (Siubhan Harrison). Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat, as always, stops the show. The encore is built-in.

The Tiger Lillies have a flair for the macabre, the surreal, the anarchic and the mordant. Their act is modelled on pre-war Berlin cabaret and they have performed in opera houses, at rock festivals, circus tents and smelly pubs. Love for Sale, their latest show at Soho Theatre, has been commissioned by Opera North Projects. The classic songs of Cole Porter are reimagined to explore the darkness beneath the surface.

I much enjoyed the music and Martyn Jacques’s emphatic, hypnotic falsetto singing. He accompanies himself on accordion, piano and banjolele. His performance is immeasurably enhanced by Adrian Stout’s musicianship on double bass and musical saw.

The run of Maury Yeston’s Titanic at Charing Cross Theatre has been extended to August 13. Please don’t miss it. It is an outstanding American musical, superbly sung. I cannot recommend it too highly.