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A CurtainUp London Review
The Thing About Men
by Sebastian King
Tom (Peter Gerald) is a man who has it all: a loving wife and children, a great job, and a sexy secretary with whom he is having an affair. But one day it all comes undone when he discovers that his wife Lucy (Kate Graham) is having an affair too. With the shoe now on the other foot, Tom goes into meltdown and unbeknownst to Lucy, moves in with her younger lover Sebastian (John Addison), intent on revenge. However, before long, friendship blossoms between the love rivals, and Tom's loyalties are torn.
Peter Gerald and Lucy Ambrose are both engaging, and with reports of ageism rife throughout the industry, it's a pleasure to see slightly more mature actors taking romantic lead roles. But the real star of the show is John Addison, who according to the programme is currently 'involved' in Andrew Lloyd-Webber's televised Superstar. Could he be Jesus? With a great voice and a charismatic energy, he would certainly get my vote. His Sebastian is handsome and energetic - a little rough around the edges perhaps, but he complements Gerald's smooth Tom, and the two together make an engaging double act.
Playing all of the other male roles, Steven Webb threatens to steal the show as a catty maitre d', with his all-too-short 'You Will Never Get Into This Restaurant.' Just as strong as his female counterpart is Lucyelle Cliffe who has some nice comic moments and a great voice. However, in this intimate space their larger-than-life characters are sometimes distractingly at odds with the more naturalistic performances from the leads.
Martin Thomas's set is a series of blocks and doorways, reflecting the New York skyline, and director Andrew Keates utilises it to its full potential to reflect various locations. Under Joanna Cichonska's musical direction, the three-piece band are tight, but the presence of the reed player just behind a frequently-used sofa is an unnecessary distraction.
The thing about The Thing About Men is that despite the best efforts of the cast and creative team, the piece itself never quite lives up to the promise of its setup. The songs are pleasant but unremarkable, the plot is slow-moving and predictable, and the moment when Tom's cover is finally blown is anticlimactic. That being said, you could do far worse on a summer evening than relaxing in the Landor's beautiful beer garden before being entertained by a great cast in this intimate - and air-conditioned (!) - gem of London's fringe.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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