Review- Design For Living, Old Vic

Sunday 12 September 2010

Dear Phil.

I understand that you are not a fan of nightwear but I urge you to go and see the revival of Noel Coward’s Design For Living at the Old Vic as I am certain that if anything can sway you, this will.

Then should an Icelandic volcano ever again force us into closer-than-natural nocturnal proximity I shall at least be spared the sight of your knees as they clatter to the bathroom and back every two hours at the behest of your (in my admittedly non-medical opinion) AD/HD bladder.

For designer Lez Brotherston has excelled himself vis a vis pyjamas. Cock & Sherlock alumnus Andrew Scott and Tom Burke (so marvellously pathetic in Creditors at the Donmar, godson of Alan Rickman, son of Anna Calder Marshall) get to sport what could easily be the most beautiful pair of matching pyjamas ever to grace the London stage. This scene could not have been sexier if the cuddling pair had been naked. I think you will find that I am vindicated in all matters concerning the aesthetics, glamour and practicality of  jimjams. I covet these silver-grey pyjamas and will be writing a begging letter to Mr Kevin Spacey in the hope that he hasn’t got his eye on them too once the run ends.

What else can I say? Well, Mr Brotherston has also come up with a beautiful third act Art Deco Manhattan apartment which frames the pyjamas perfectly. I am also coveting the three piece sofa. there is a very nice bar in Act II. All in all it is, quite possibly, the most opulent design I have seen for a very long time.

Scott, Burke and Lisa Dillon (Cranford) all do well as the ménage who love each other equally and cannot exist apart. Scott is particularly interesting – he brings a high pitched freshness, a certain hyperactivity and no little allure to the stage, even in daywear.  There is faultless support from Maggie McCarthy as the Act II comedy housekeeper Miss Hodge. Angus Wright treads an interesting path from the dullest man on earth to Basil Fawlty.

It is not without its problems – you would not be impressed by the on-stage meal: two lettuce leaves and a couple of tiny pieces of ham do not a meal make (I have already explained this to you at your last so-called dinner party). And I did find myself worrying that Lisa Dillon was turning into Felicity Kendal. One is fine but one is enough.

The problem however is the length. The publicised running time of 2 hours 40 minutes including two 15-minute intervals was apparently “correct at time of going to press” so how it has managed to balloon to nigh on three hours is anyone’s guess. I don’t recall the play being this long before. But every act feels slightly over-long. Perhaps the director Anthony Page can sort it out in the remaining previews. Particularly alarming was the drunk scene which rather outstayed its welcome and did make me worry that this may be how we come across from time to time.  But I dismissed the thought as ridiculous.

I think it is all very well done and there was much to admire but the time didn’t fly by and, really, I do think it should have done. I’m at something of a loss to put my finger on why I wasn’t swept away. More gentlemen’s nightwear might have swung it for me. I am quite sure that other people will like it more than I. In fact they do.



11 Responses to “Review- Design For Living, Old Vic”

  1. Thomas Dillon Says:

    My verdict too. Lisa Dillon rattles through Act One without breathing much life into Gilda. Coward is very hard to do, I think. It takes exceptional performers to give human depth to the characters while delivering the admittedly excellent jokes. If one could only see a production with Coward himself in the cast…

  2. Daniel Says:

    I LOVED Design for Living. It’s my favourite play of the year (so far) even beating the delightful (but slightly stiff) After the Dance. The 3 hours flew by. Andrews Scott is delicious.

  3. lez brotherston Says:

    I have on a few occasions asked not to be mentioned on your website… please dont make me have to find you again

  4. Choreokino Says:

    heaven! A review of Pyjamas, a couple of good jokes and a nod in the right direction to structure – oh and there was some acting – you could not have written a better review had you been the Master himself – although his would probably have run to slightly fewer words(apart from the necessary asides re elegant nightwear) I fancy – “Saw DfL last night. Like East Anglia – rather long and a little flat”.

  5. lez brotherston Says:

    As you know i prefer to meet you. this time i will not be so polite.
    Please remove references to me and not mention me again.

    • Lez – I am genuinely sorry that you feel this way but I can not allow myself to be bullied into removing your name from a review simply because you demand it. Indeed I now regret capitulating on the last occasion you objected to being mentioned (In A Dark Dark House, if my memory serves me) because I think it was merely cowardice on my part. I have been true to my word and removed all the references that were the result of the allegedly spoof comment left under your name which started all this. I am sorry if you do not feel that is enough but I think we have been scrupulously fair and if we were to begin not mentioning people simply because they demand it, where would it all end? Andrew

  6. I’ve stumbled upon this site and think it’s very amusing. Offered tickets to the show, I thought I’d scout the reviews first. Yours is well written and highly entertaining… I also have to add that I cannot see Mr Lez Brotherston’s problem? In your review, the mention of his name and contribution to the show one of the kindest things! As an outsider I am curious as to why he is not flattered (unless there is a previous sub-text or relationship I have completely missed here?)

    WELL DONE reviewers…

  7. lez brotherston Says:

    To answer Lydsays question… there is indeed histiory with this site. A while ago the wingers ran a campaign against me making me the brunt of their jokes in a way that fell way short of reviewing and bordered on internet bullying . I met with one of them and asked, as politly as I could, that the bullies removed the jokes at my expense and leave me alone… I also asked that they did not mention me on their site again. they did so for a while but, I was told , had begun to mention me again… It doesnt matter wether their comments are good or bad I just want them to leave me alone. I found out that rather than this being an site run by fans of theatre for fun, that andrew indeed worked for a publishing company. a company which has a an anti bullying clause in its public declaration. I am not flattered by their jokes and as I told them face to face i do not respect their site or their bitchy nastiness. It is entirely personal and I am looking forward to meeting Andrew in a very public situation. Andrew did not remove references because of cowardness… he removed them because I took legal advice and the advice was that the comments were a personal attack and could there could be a case for a legal challenge.

  8. lez brotherston Says:

    sadly i deleated your number as i believed all this was at an end… perhaps we should speak again?
    please could you call me on 07809 XXX 125?

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