I’m not going to lie to you. When I walked by our beautiful Kings Theatre, some cold morning not too long ago, and saw a poster for Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, I was suddenly struck by a raging bolt of fury. There is something about Gary Wilmot and Lee Mead’s smiley, shiny, sparkly faces that just stirs a deep violence within me.
But, as they say, never judge a book by its cover. For even a cover as vomit-worthy as this can hold beneath it the most wondrous and precious of treasures. In this case that treasure is, to no surprise, the wit and wisdom of the utter genius that is Oscar Wilde.
Arthur Savile is going to commit a murder. Or so he is told by the palm reader, Mr Septimus Podgers. But who? Not his wonderful wife to be, Miss Sybil Merton? Anything but that! And so, to protect the love of his life, he must choose to murder another so that the spell will be broken and fear no more. But murder is more difficult than he first anticipated. And keeping his fiancé at bay even more so.
For all of the cynical jibes and bad mouthing I have aimed towards the show upon its build up, I have to say that I came out into the night smiling.
The cast were all hilarious, in the best possible sense of the word. Especially impressive was the young Lee Mead, who showed an impeccable gift for comic timing...oh, and he was given an opportunity to show off his talent for singing as well.
The whole production was set in the spirit of Victorian melodrama at its most extreme, with fake candlelight, live music and painted backcloths all included. But, even with that in mind, some of the performances were just a trifle over the top. Derren Nesbit was very amusing as the German bomb maker Winckelkopf upon his arrival, but quickly became very irritating and just, well, too much.
The show also takes a bizarre turn during the last five or ten minutes. Once the murder is committed, it suddenly doesn’t seem very funny anymore. The witty one liners still bounce around us like crazy frogs, but murder has been done. To somebody that we have grown to like over the course of the show. It just didn’t sit right with me. It made me not like the living. That class of people. But, perhaps, that is the point.
The true star of the show is the work of Wilde himself. Every word that is uttered you want to write down and pass as your own. Few writers can claim to have the same influence, including the great William Shakespeare himself.
If you’re looking for laughs, look no further than what is on at the Kings this week. Wonderful, witty and Wilde.
Show runs til Sat 27 February 2010, 7.30pm / Wed & Sat 2.30pm. Tickets: £14.00 - £26.50