Must see: Privates on Parade, Noel Coward Theatre, London WC2

Grandage lures them in with a riotous return to an old hit

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The Independent Culture

His staging of Privates on Parade at the Donmar in 2001 helped mark out Michael Grandage as the successor to Sam Mendes.

On the other side of a decade there, the director launches the Michael Grandage Company with another look at Peter Nichols's hilarious, revue-style 1977 satire about a British Army song-and-dance unit (where men were men and so were the women) in Malaya in 1948 during the Communist insurgency.

This is the spirited opener of a 15-month season in which the Company will combine affordability with top-drawer names to lure in young audiences.

The main attraction is Simon Russell Beale's sublime portrayal of the outrageously camp Captain Terri Dennis, which is both broad and subtle: from under the slap, he lets you see the man who has suffered.

In Grandage's hands, the blend of vaudeville and political anger becomes powerfully expressive. Oh, and by the way, there are, in every sense, privates on parade.

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