Play turns to dust as Scacchi feels heat of critics

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The Independent Culture

The show that brought the film star Greta Scacchi back to the stage, The Guardsman, is to close at the end of the month, little more than two weeks after opening in the West End of London.

The show that brought the film star Greta Scacchi back to the stage, The Guardsman, is to close at the end of the month, little more than two weeks after opening in the West End of London.

Bad reviews and poor audience response were blamed for the failure of the production, which producers and cast had hoped would run at the Albery theatre well into the new year. The show is thought to carry losses of about £250,000.

Ms Scacchi, 40, returning tothe boards after 12 years, plays the female lead. She has cancelled all interviews to promote the show, which is due to close on 28 October.

Paddy Wilson, the producer, who gave the cast the bad news the day after opening night, said it was very depressing. "It has a great cast with Greta, Michael Pennington and Georgina Hale and it looks wonderful ... but the critics and the audience don't want it." He said he had been expecting advance ticket sales of £100,000, but they only reached £30,000.

The Guardsman is a romantic comedy written in 1911 by Ferenc Molnar, a Hungarian. Scacchi and Pennington play a couple six months into a shaky marriage. He suspects her of being unfaithful, and dons the disguise of a guardsman to test her fidelity. She sees through the ploy and plays him at his own game.

The Independent described the show as a "misconceived production". The Daily Telegraph said: "This compelling and erotic comedy has been turned into a crude and laboured farce." The London Evening Standard's Nicholas de Jongh called the production an "old theatrical warhorse, otherwise known as a 1911 sex-war comedy, lumbering into town, looking as if it was almost on its last legs".

The Ambassador Theatre Group, which runs the Albery, has already made plans to move Simon Callow's production The Mystery of Charles Dickens into the Albery from the Comedy Theatre.

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