Writer: Arthur Wing Pinero
Composer: Nigel Hess
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Iain Sykes
The Public Reviews Rating:
Starring Nicholas Le Prevost and Patricia Hodge, this racing jargon packed comedy, especially in Act 1, feels at times as if it is running on particularly heavy ground. This isn’t so much to do with the acting, which is fine and sharp, even if some lines get lost in this huge barn of a theatre, or Christopher Luscombe’s quirky direction. It’s more to do with Pinero’s original story which places Le Prevost’s straight as a dye, anti gambling clergyman right at the heart of a moral dilemma that, with the great respect afforded to nineteenth century men of the cloth would probably have had a much greater effect on audiences in 1887 than in cynical old 2012.
This results in an act, lacking much of the humour that could reasonably be expected from a play, the style of which derives from seeing authority figures lose their dignity. Surely even moralistic clergy wouldn’t be as shocked as this about the racing antics of Hodge’s Giorgiana and owner of the eponymous racehorse, Sir Tristram Mardon, played as an impeccable upper class rascal by Michael Cochrane. A sub plot about the extravagances of the Dean’s two daughters (Florence Andrews and Jennifer Rhodes) is a minor distraction along the way and even John Arthur’s gruff servant Blore raises scarcely a titter in a scene with Le Prevost, owing more to Hammer Horror films than nineteenth century farce.
Yet, just as this reviewer was expecting Act 2 to continue at a canter, enter Rachel Lumberg, a real show stealer as Hannah Topping, as bubbly as a character can be, every moment of her performance a joy to behold, bringing the first genuine laughs of the evening. Her double act with Matt Weyland as the over possessive local policeman is the catalyst which sparks the play into another level. Suddenly, instead of the social subtleties, we have mistaken identity, false arrests, botched escape attempts and the whole play moves up a pace right through to its conclusion.
So what can you expect if you put your money on Dandy Dick? It isn’t the fastest play out of the stalls, and at times, you could wonder why you backed it at all but just watch it come storming through in the final furlong and you’ll be rewarded with a winner, if only by a short head.
Runs until 1st SeptemberDandy Dick – Opera House, Manchester,
Tags: Arthur Wing Pinero, Christopher Luscombe, Dandy Dick, Florence Andrews, Jennifer Rhodes, John Arthur, Manchester, Matt Weyland, Michael Cochrane, Nicholas le Prevost, Nigel Hess, Opera House, Patricia Hodge, Rachel Lumberg