Interviews

05/03/2014

Angela Lansbury brings Madame Arcati back from the dead




As you can see from the billing and advertising, this is Angela Lansbury Presents... and clearly why everyone, myself included, bought tickets. The steep seating meant I could watch people's phones, and the gays infront of me were looking at Terry Richardson's photo of her. I'm not judging, it's the only copy of The Gentlewoman that I own and was tracked down for the same strange purpose of staring at Angela in those glasses.

Everyone duly claps when she first arrives on stage, but I was thrown by the microphones - it took me a while to work out that was what was happening. I wouldn't expect Angela to be able to project up to my seat, especially with a loud younger cast. But sat in the gods (there is no advantage buying cheap tickets early on, this is the second time in a row where I've ended up being sat as far as physically possible from the stage) you can't really see anyone's lips move or any subtle facial expression. The result was that to begin with, I was trying to work out if she was miming. MIMING! ON STAGE! But no, just the mic. Which you eventually get used to.

As it turns out, the already perfectly cast Lansbury played it to the hilt. Unless you have a microscopic knowledge of the text, there was no way of telling where the scatty fictional Coward creation began and where the encroaching senility, fluffed lines, off-script ad-libbing ended. But it was marvelous to watch, even some batshit crazy line picking up a dropped hanky could've been straight from the pen of Noel, or off the cuff of Angela. Who knows, and who cares.

It was kitsch, cute and a everything you want from seeing Jessica Fletcher turn into an eccentric elderly Brit.