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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be Lonely Island's second Hollywood venture following their 2007 film Hot Rod
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment