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Guys and Dolls - Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Louise Winter on 16th Jun 2016 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

Reviewed 14h June 2016

Guys and Dolls Johann Persson

image credit Johan Persson 

This Chichester Theatre revival of Guys and Dolls is in MK until Saturday 18th June following an extended West End run and wide critical acclaimOriginally performed in 1950 on Broadway, the portrayal of Prohibition-era New York has proved consistently popular over the years. Damon Runyon’s tales of the more colourful characters of the time – the gamblers, hustlers and nightclub performers – are the inspiration for the story. Some of the best-known show tunes ever - Luck be a Lady, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boatdirection by Gordon Greenberg and choreography by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright, means this should be a top show and a great audience experience, yet my impression last night was that this show must be quite different from the West End one that garnered all those incredible reviewsoverall it was enjoyable but felt rather lacklustre 

Nathan Detroit (Maxwell Caulfield)in desperate need of a thousand dollars to pay for an overnight illegal gambling venue, persuades hot-shot gambler Sky Masterson (Richard Fleeshman) to take him on in a wager – the seemingly impossible task of getting straight-laced missionary Sergeant Sarah Brown (Anna O’Byrne) of the Save-a-Soul mission down to Havana for dinner. In the meantime Nathan is trying to secure a venue, avoid Lieutenant Brannigan and deal with his long-suffering fiancé Miss Adelaide (Louise Dearman) who is frustrated by their 14 year engagementwants him to name a date and specifically to ‘go straight’. The complications that ensue provide much of the humour.  

 
Guys and Dolls Johan Persson
 
image credit Johan Persson 
 
Caulfield is vastly experienced on stage and on both small and big screens and should fit the role – he looks right as the low level hustler but often seemed tired in both action and delivery. Fleeshman also looks right - super-cool and while demonstrating some elements of the charming, wise-cracking character of Skythere was a lack of consistency last nightO’Byrne (Sarah Brown), perhaps not the strongest actress or singer, doesn’t seem to have found her feet with the character. It is Dearman who is the outstanding performer - commits to each moment on stage, has the strongest voiceplays to the audience, pitches Adelaide perfectly between sassy, sweet and vulnerable, and has superlative comic timing. She left the other leads in the shadows when she was on stage and her performances of Take Back You Mink and Adelaide’s Lament were extremely funny.
 
Guys and Dolls Johan Persson
 
image credit Johan Persson
 
Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Jack Edwards) and sidekick Benny Southstreet (Mark Sangster) were