Friday, 23 December 2016

Visions of Angels… City of Angels, Donmar Warehouse

Rosalie Craig as Gabby/Bobby

From the very start City of Angels picks you up and takes you on a visceral journey of sex and ‘tecs to the heart of film noir.  I loved it from start to finish, and so did the people surrounding me. Superlatives like “beautiful”, “fantastic”, and “gorgeous” where muttered around me by an audience only just containing it’s enthusiasm: a near riot of approval!
Samantha Barks
It was a class act from tip to toe with an edgy energy that didn’t flag at any point!  Jazz song and dance, ‘smack!’, the writers letters dynamically added to the scene as he wrote, ‘biff!!’ and to cap it all ‘XXXXXX’ rewrites - actually - acted backwards by the cast whenever the writer did an edit.  “The best backward acting in the West End” as my wife ventured…

The writing by David Zippel was slick and pacey performing a difficult balancing act between two inter-twined narratives: both dependent on each other. Director Josie Rourke showed ingenuity and restraint in mastering the challenge of these parallel worlds, in which most of her cast had to perform two roles each. 
Tam Mutu & Hadley Fraser

The set design of Robert Jones showed once again how the limitations of the Donmar space can actually bring out the very best – his set had more hidden doors than a haunted house and was used as part of the narrative.
Robert Jones amazing set
Needless to say, the music of Cy Coleman was also positively beautiful – from uplifting jazz to stage-standards in the same league as his score for Sweet Charity. Add to that a cast of top draw actors who can also sing and dance and you are starting to get the picture: this was a production I’m sure Cy, David and Larry Gilbert would have been proud of.

The premise of the show is that the Writer is not only writing a Film Noir but crosses over the fiction, reality divide and interacts with the lead character within his own film.  Their relationship and how this impacts on the writers real life leads to both funny and poignant scenes and to the show’s conclusion.  

Rebecca Trehearn & Rosalie Graig

It seems unfair to single out any of this superb cast for special mention but Hadley Fraser as the conflicted writer Stine and Tam Mutu as his heroic alter-ego Stone were especially impressive whilst Rosalie Craig was a knockout as the writer’s long-suffering, wise-cracking wife and then the detective’s lost love; slinky singer Bobbi.
 
Katherine Kelly as Aluara/Clara
Katherine Kelly was an alluring Aluara/conniving Carla - a classy, classic noir blonde - whilst young Samantha Barks has talent to burn with looks and presence that seem sure to set her on course for a very long career. Nor should I neglect Rebecca Trehearn who alternated between Stone’s secretary and Stine’s studio assistant/bit on the side – another great voice with an, almost intimidating, stage presence… so much energy!
The Angel City Four: Kadiff Kirwan, Sandra Marvin, Jo Servi and Jennifer Saayeng
The Angel City Four also provided superb vocalisations throughout so a special tip of my new Liberty Hat to Kadiff Kirwan, Sandra Marvin, Jo Servi and Jennifer Saayeng: if you guys are planning any gigs at Ronnie Scotts… we’ll be there!
 
City of Angels is an emotionally clever, witty, stylish and a thoroughly uplifting theatrical experience. If you can get a ticket don’t hesitate and I really hope it gets the West End transfer it deserves! I feel privileged to have seen so much class in the intimacy of the Donmar but this show deserves a wider audience.

IThankyou Rating *****

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