Encore!

THEATRE: Guys and Dolls; Olivier, RNT, London

Look, I don't want to go overboard about Richard Eyre's production of Guys and Dolls in the Olivier, so let's just put it this way: Do yourselves a big favour. Take your family. Take other people's families. Take your street. Then go again. Got that?

The slight worry beforehand had been that lightning would fail to strike twice. When Eyre first directed Loesser's matchless musical at this address back in the early 1980s, the production became both a hit and myth. Would this Mark 2 version labour with a counterproductive strenuousness to outdo Mark 1, in the manner of the wannabe macho Cuban dancer who - in the production's utterly hilarious Havana night-club scene - flings himself around a female partner more than twice his height like some mad competitive midget in an exhaustingly misguided attempt to prove that size isn't everything?

Well, there's the odd moment where you feel that less would be more. But, on the whole, the parts where the old production went for broke and where this new production goes for broke and then some send you into transports of delight. Nicely-Nicely's "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat", backed by the Mission dolls and the fraudulently born-again gamblers, can be relied on to take the roof off even in ropey productions. Here, though, Eyre has done something that would have been less thinkable in 1982: he's cast the winningly overweight black actor, Clive Rowe, as Nicely-Nicely and a female double, Sharon D Clarke, as the Salvation Army Governor.

At once revelling in and sending up the wild feel of a black revivalist meeting that he can bring to this sequence, Rowe takes you to giddy heights and then takes you further, so that by the third of the increasingly uninhibited encores, he's letting rip with this wonderfully joyous descant on the tune. Three times the Mission folk, after going ravingly AWOL, drop back demurely, and as one, into their chairs as if nothing has happened and three times they leave the audience still levitating. For any man (apart, one hears, from Sting), this sequence is the closest he'll get to multiple orgasm.

As Adelaide, the permanent, psychosomatically flu-ridden fiancee, Imelda Staunton is just about perfection, capturing with a vividness that never coarsens into caricature the fact that Adelaide is both an incurable romantic and a hopeless realist, in all senses of the word "hopeless". A lot will be written of her knockout rendition of the "Hotbox" numbers, but it's the quieter moments I'll remember with as much gratitude - like the infinitely touching and funny way in which grief and a rotten cold make her unable to complete the final line of the reprise of "Adelaide's Lament", or the way she clutches Nathan's hand with a hilarious, tearful, motherly pride at the unearned compliments sent by her mother in a letter to this supposed son-in-law.

Henry Goodman's Nathan Detroit, an all-day panic attack in two-tone shoes, will be still funnier when he tries, just fractionally, less hard. Equally with him, one recalls a quiet moment with as much pleasure as all the hyperactivity: he takes the high notes near the end of the song "Sue Me" with such gentle ardour that they reinforce your impression that Nathan is genuinely more sensitive than the other guys and that he really does, by his own scared, defensive lights, love Adelaide.

Clarke Peters, as Sky Masterson, was not in best voice on Tuesday, lending a certain insecurity to the tricky harmonies he has to achieve with Joanna Riding's marvellous Sarah. But, look, who's counting? For all kinds of reasons, I want to go back. Not least for the sight of Stanley Townsend's ugly hulk of a Big Jule transformed, Wizard of Oz-fashion, into an improbably strapping senorita in the Havana dancing sequence, irresistibly reminding this member of the audience of the photograph of Oscar Wilde in drag as Salome.

Booking: 0171-928 2252

Paul Taylor

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week